Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 29 September 2020

To shave or not to shave? Meet the Dubai residents balancing big beards with face masks

Eleven purveyors of sizeable facial hair share tips on keeping their beards under wraps

Growing and maintaining a sizeable beard requires a certain level of commitment. There's the itchiness and cleanliness to contend with, in addition to the daily challenge of at least pretending to have some semblance of control over said facial follicles.

The rigours of sporting a significant thatch of facial hair have increased considerably since wearing face masks became mandatory in public in the UAE. So The National's Chris Whiteoak photographed 11 bearded Dubai residents in their masks, and spoke to them about dealing with their bristles over the searing summer months, the optimal positioning of a mask over voluminous facial hair and what prompted them to grow their beards in the first place.

Some beards appear to have emerged purely by accident, while others, such as the one Shayan Pervaiz, 40, sports, were purposefully cultivated as a response to the pandemic.

“It was a statement I was making as a protest against the rapid spread of Covid-19 at the time, which could be curtailed by something as simple as everyone being responsible and vigilant,” says the Afghan national, who plans to continue growing his beard until global travel returns to “normal(ish)” levels.

These images are specifically for a photo project and not to be used for any other stories Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A. Photo project. Covid-19/Coronavirus. Shayan Pervaiz a Afghan gentleman living in Dubai. Shayan is a 40 year old Strategic Digital Transformation and Security Consultant. A photo project on men with big bushy beards wearing masks. Shayan said when asked 'Do people ask questions about you beard?' "All the time! I stopped tending to my beard when the first lockdown came upon us in March this year. It was a statement I was making as a protest for the rapid spread of covid19 at the time - which could be curtailed by something as simple as everyone being responsible and vigilant. I will not tend to my beard till global travel returns to normal (ish) and the spread of it is under control. I've lasted 6 months so far! " Thursday, September 3rd, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Shayan Pervaiz is a 40-year-old strategic digital transformation and security consultant. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Some of our subjects smother their beards in oils, balms and jellies, while others let nature take its course, only stopping to de-fuzz every few months. And many have had to adopt new strategies now that masks have become a permanent over-beard fixture, especially when there’s an onset of itching.

These images are specifically for a photo project and not to be used for any other stories Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A. Photo project. Covid-19/Coronavirus. Keith Dallison a British gentleman living in Dubai. Keith is a 59 year old 50 plus model/ actor, Voice Over artist and Video Editor. A photo project on men with big bushy beards wearing masks. Keith said when asked 'Does your beard itch and how do you overcome it?' "Only when wearing a mask does my beard itch. If no ones looking I have a good full on rough bear style scratch. But when one is in company, one has to refrain and be more subtle and strike the thinking pose and let your fingers sort the problem." Thursday, September 3rd, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Dubai resident Keith Dallison. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“If no one's looking, I have a good, full-on rough bear-style scratch,” says Keith Dallison, 59, a voice-over artist, video editor, and 50-plus model and actor. “But when one is in company, one has to refrain and be more subtle by striking the thinking pose and letting your fingers sort the problem."

These images are specifically for a photo project and not to be used for any other stories Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A. Photo project. Covid-19/Coronavirus. Stuart Forrester a British gentleman living in Dubai. Stuart is a 45 year old Sales Manager. A photo project on men with big bushy beards wearing masks. Stuart said when asked 'Whats the longest you would let you beard grow?' "Resting on my chest is about as long as I could get away with I think." Thursday, September 3rd, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Stuart Forrester, a 45-year-old sales manager living in Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

And how far are they willing to let things go? For some, partner pressure appears to be the only thing holding those follicles in check. Others have more random metrics for acceptable length. “Resting on my chest is about as long as I could get away with, I think,” says British sales manager, Stuart Forrester, 45.

Updated: September 8, 2020 10:50 AM

Editor's Picks
THE DAILY NEWSLETTER
Sign up to our daily email
Most Read