Barber shops major business, job creator for Kurds in Europe

Saman is one of many Kurdish barbers in Germany who run successful barber shops and employs scores of people in this line of business in which Kurds seem to excel across Europe. 

In his shop in Düsseldorf he has employed five people and together they serve nearly 100 clients a day.

Saman is happy to have created job opportunities for others and says that for him it is as much art as it is a business.

“Haircutting is a contemporary business,” he told Rudaw. “It is also an art.”

Saman has been living in Germany for 15 years, and he has been a barber for 10 years. He had to overcome many hurdles in order to reach where he is now. 

“Our success (in this business) wasn’t something easy,” he says. 

Saman also testifies to the fact that many other Kurds in Germany and other European countries run successful barber shops. 

“There are tens of well-known Kurdish barber shops in more than six big cities in Germany,” he said.

Sharaban is another barber shop in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. It is a big shop and welcomes customers in Kurdish, Persian, Arabic, Finnish and English. 

“I have taken advantage of the opportunity which exists today in Finland and have been able to draw immigrants, even the old ones,” said Sharaban, the owner, who is a Faili Kurd born and raised in Baghdad.

Sharaban believes low prices and the speed and quality of his work is the main draw to his shop, adding that at least 20 percent of his customers are native Finns. The rest are immigrants. 

Sharaban personally trained three new immigrants in the art of hairdressing and all three of them now work with him. 

“The Sharaban barber shop has become my home,” said Evan Salih, one of the three employees. “It is everything to me. It helped me overcome my poor financial conditions.” 

Salih hopes to be able to obtain the right to remain in the country by virtue of his job. He is happy with his new profession and his pay.

It is normal these days to see barber shops in big cities in Europe with Kurdish names. In a small city like Turku in southwest Finland there are four known barber shops where dozens of people work. Firaz is a Christian from Erbil. He has been in Turku for four years and now works with a Kurdish barber. He says respect for the job and their clients is the root of their success.

“The Finns understand that we respect them and do the job quickly and with little money. That is why they come to us most of the time,” Firaz said.

Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, home to the second largest number of Kurds after Germany, claims the lion’s share of Kurdish barber shops. There are 38 shops with a staff of 100 in total.

Hawre Fatah is the owner of one such barber shop. He says many Kurds and Arabs may look down on this profession, but for him it is a good source of income and his affordable prices help low income people. 

“It is unfair for a Swede to charge 400 to 1200 Krona for a haircut, and us charging only 120 Krona,” he said.

Hana Mohammed Salih and his brother Hemin run yet another major barber shop near Stockholm and he learned the job by giving family and friends free haircuts. 

“I didn’t think of taking any courses or training sessions.” Salih told Rudaw. “I started at home initially. Then I started cutting the hair of my friends. We are doing a good job now.” 

Bakhtiar Aziz, a university professor and economist in Sweden says that these Kurdish barbershops and their customers contribute millions of euros a year to the European market and that the Kurds’ success in this field should be respected. 

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