ABU DHABI // Every salon employee in the city will soon be required to take a course on hygiene and regulations if they want to keep their job.
The courses, to begin in January, are part of a push to clean up Abu Dhabi's 1,500 licensed beauty parlours, hairdressers, nail salons and spas, many of which are in shopfronts or converted apartments.
Khaleefa Al Romaithi, the municipality's public health director, said inspectors regularly confiscated expired products, banned substances and even laser machines, which were restricted for use in specialised clinics or medical facilities.
"Always when we go to any salon, especially a new salon, we say 'This is not allowed,' and they say 'We didn't know'," Mr Al Romaithi said. "Now no one has reasons to say 'We don't know'."
From January 1, the municipality will give salons three months for every employee to obtain a certificate from the day-long course.
The session, costing Dh300, will teach personal hygiene, how to disinfect work areas and how to properly use henna, Mr Al Romaithi said. It will also outline the procedures and products not allowed in the capital.
After the grace period, officials will begin to close down salons that do not comply, he said. The classes will be offered in about six languages.
Many salon owners and managers welcomed the change, but several said the price would be a burden.
"It will be expensive, yes, but I think when they catch us they just try to fine us for things we don't know," said Neelima Lavana, the owner of Indian Henna Art Centre in Al Karamah.
Nahed Hamed, the owner of La Gazelle Beauty Saloon in Al Nahyan, said the course could persuade employees to follow regulations even if a manager was not around.
"It is a very good idea and I agree with it," Ms Hamed said. "Some of the staff don't listen to you but when they [officials] say such things, they will really take it seriously."
Sonam Youmtso, the owner of Eifel Tower Ladies Salon in Al Nahyan, praised the course, but not the cost.
"We cannot afford it," said Ms Youmtso, who has seven employees in her salon. "It should be free."
Ms Lavana warned the course should be available in several languages to reach Indian employees.
If they could not understand the class, "Dh300 would be an absolute waste", she said.
The municipality has printed posters for salons to display, telling clients to beware of black henna, which is banned and can cause allergic reactions and burns.
The posters urge customers to check product expiry dates, report salon offences and consider bringing their own cosmetic tools and towels.
"It's good that they're pushing for this, especially in Abu Dhabi," said Kaarina Mcisaac, the manager of Glamour Hair Salon in Al Markaziyah. "I've seen quite a few horrifying things happen."
This month, municipality officials announced they had seized from salons 535 packets of oils and creams without labels or expiry dates, 32 packs of expired cosmetics and four packs of flammable petroleum materials used to prepare black henna.