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5 Old School Barbershops around Beirut

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By Lucia Czernin

Take a walk around Beirut and you'll soon stumble across a traditional barbershop. We meet five characters who will give you a trim the good old way! 

1) Salon Antoun in Mar Mikhael (opposite the old train station)
The salon, which dates back to 1941, experienced some refurbishment in the 60s, but nothing much has changed since then. Antoun’s grandson Michel, who now runs the shop, will proudly show you his antique razor blades as he tells stories about the history of the shop and his grandfather.

2) Salon Abdo Hashem in Achrafieh (next to Sofil Center)
At the age of 75, Abdo counts the most distinguished gentlemen in town among his clients. A sweet charmer, Abdo admits to keeping frozen gardenias in his refrigerator, which he enjoys distributing to ladies who pass his shop. “A man is nothing without a woman,” he insists, as he holds onto a picture of his beautiful late wife. 


3) Salon Vatche Zeitounian in Bourj Hammoud (Marash Street)
Vatche looks back on an eventful path, having started off as a ladies hairdresser, then becoming a barber in Saudi Arabia. He now has a shop in Bourj Hammoud, where he likes to share his wisdom and thoughts on psychology with anyone ready to listen. He’ll also tell you a thing or two about female clients, namely that they talk more than he does! 

4) Salon Arz in Dora (before the bus station)
Salon Arz has been welcoming clients since 1951. The shop’s owner is Boutros Matar, a kind-hearted 88-year-old from Tannourine. He explains that his love for his village inspired the name of his salon, which is cluttered with shaving tools, photographs and books.

Boutros admits that he doesn’t drink or smoke, and has perfect vision. He also confesses to being a keen poet, so don’t be surprised if he recites to you a poem or two!

5) Salon Philippe Safar in Hamra (on Bliss Street opposite the main gate of AUB)
Philippe has had his shop for over 50 years, and never once closed, even during the worst periods of fighting in Lebanon’s history. Dressed in a lab coat, with dyed black hair, he admits that young clients might be attracted by his refreshing décor - “It reminds them of the beach,” he comments as he points to the blue and white color scheme, which he hasn’t changed since the 60s! 

Although some of his oldest clients include notable politicians such as minister Kamal Joumblat, Raymond Edde and Michel Aflaq, he admits that one of his rules is to avoid talking politics in the salon. 

DATE 19 AUG 2017


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