Even when some Emirati men are struggling to find jobs and pay rent, they are financing hair transplants, Botox injections and liposuction more than ever to secure jobs.
Plastic surgery for good looks and upward mobility
Despite the global economic downturn, cosmetic surgery continues to be a growing global industry. Even when some Emirati men are struggling to find jobs and pay rent, they are financing hair transplants, Botox injections and liposuction more than ever to secure jobs.
With credit card limits as high as Dh200,000 ($54,500), and numerous clinics providing alternative non-surgical solutions and instalment payments, cosmetic procedures are more accessible than ever.
Some Emirati men and UAE male residents have been attributing the increase in demand for cosmetic procedures to a poor job market. Good looks sell - even in the workplace - and UAE men, especially those who aspire to managerial positions and higher income, are becoming hooked on the power of good looks.
A report by Al Ittihad newspaper in February said that last year about Dh300 million was spent on cosmetic procedures in the UAE, with men comprising 47 per cent of those undergoing cosmetic procedures - an increase of 7 per cent since 2008.
Globally, more than $80 billion was spent on more than 50 million cosmetic procedures last year, according to Al Ittihad's report.
Liposuction and tummy tucks were among the procedures most requested by Emirati men, the report said.
The manager of a cosmetic clinic in Abu Dhabi said: "Most Emirati men who come to our clinic ask for laser hair removal services so that they don't need to shave their beards as much - and to look good for work. Others ask for face-lifts and Botox injections to reduce wrinkles and look younger, especially when they hold high job positions."
Hair transplants are popular procedures as well.
"I'm in my early 20s and I'm already going bald," said Mr al Yaqoub, a UAE national. "The hair transplant looks natural, and it boosted my confidence. I might as well get my teeth whitened."
And there is money to be made out of this. A single laser hair removal session for a man's beard costs Dh400- Dh1,200, depending on the particular beard, whereas the cost of Botox injections starts at Dh2,000, with increases of several thousand dirhams depending on the area treated and the doctor performing the procedure. Both procedures require several sessions to achieve and maintain the desired results.
Research shows that work experience and skills are not the only factors managers consider when hiring or promoting employees. According to a May 2009 Harvard Study of health and life quality, physically attractive job seekers had a better chance of being hired. The study also revealed that attractive people think more highly of their worth and potential, leading to higher incomes and more job offers.
"When I went on a job interview, the manager kept emphasising that I had a perfect smile and good looks that suit a marketing executive. He didn't focus as much on my Master's degree in management or my fluency in French," said Mr Ali, 27, also a UAE national.
In the current job market, especially with the economic recession, Emirati men are facing a high-pressure and competitive market.
"I travel a lot for work and hope to be a manager one day. Whoever said looks only matter to women was wrong," said Mr al Yaqoub. "There's a huge pressure, and good looks help me progress in my career."