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Bo Barbershop: grooming paradise for Dubai hipsters

Words by Rob Chilton

Expert trimming and a carefree attitude combine at this Business Bay haven

After spotting the black and white spinning barber pole of Bo Barbershop, our eyes fell upon a pale grey fixie bike propped up outside the front door. The sight of this beautiful piece of 1950s-inspired machinery from Los Angeles brand Linus told us we were entering a place run by hipsters with impeccable taste.

Greeting EDGAR at the entrance of this recent addition to the Dubai barbershop scene at The Bay Gate, a stone’s throw from Business Bay Metro station, is its co-founder Oliver Zaituni, a cheerful, shaggy-haired fella with 21 years’ barbering experience, five of those coming in Dubai at indie crop shop Akin.

Head barber Oliver Zaituni

He sits us down in one of three Belmont chairs wrapped in camel-coloured leather and offers us a coffee from a gleaming La Marzocco machine manned by Virgil, who uses beans from Dubai roaster Nightjar.

“The haircut is only 20 per cent,” says Zaituni cryptically as he spins us round. “What keeps people coming back is everything else: music, interiors, staff, coffee, products. You don’t want to be stressed when you get a haircut, you want to relax.” With Future Islands and Fleetwood Mac playing during our visit, his wish was achieved.

Zaituni has Panamanian, Mexican and Lebanese heritage, and was brought up in Malaysia. He spent eight years in London with Truefitt & Hill, setting up international outlets of the historic British barbering company.

Barbers at work

“I believe in tradition, but also modernity,” he explains, as he gets to work on a fade. “Many barbers don’t know how to use scissors properly,” he adds with a sigh.

Zaituni is terrible at remembering names, he laughs, but he never forgets haircuts. “You come back in six months and I’ll remember what you had last time,” he smiles. “The first time I cut someone’s hair, I earn their trust. The second time they visit, I take more risks.” He tells a story about once giving a skin fade to a conservative banker in Dubai. “He was wearing a suit and I saw the guy’s face was getting redder and sweatier by the minute, but I told him to trust me. I think he was too shy to say anything. An hour later he walked out really happy - he looked fantastic.”

Eclectic artifacts

Oliver Zaituni is the ‘o’ in Bo, the ‘b’ belongs to his business partner and best friend Bilal. The shop opened in autumn 2020 and has been booked solid thanks to Zaituni's reputation and strong word of mouth among customers. Barbers at Bo use products from brands such as Pomp & Co., Salt & Stone and Davines (their OI shampoo smells amazing) that contain no chemicals. Shelves lined with 4x4 toy trucks and Lonely Planet hiking books reflect Zaituni’s passion for the great outdoors.

“I just fitted a roof tent to my 4x4 and I’m going camping this weekend at Al Qudra," he says excitedly. "I mean waaaaay out in the desert, off-road. It’s so dark and kinda scary at first, but you get used to it. You wanna come?”

Haircut AED 170; ultimate shave (50 minutes) AED 185

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