Tattos a big craze among youths in Saudi Arabia

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Dubai, May 10 (UNI) Though frowned upon by Islamic scholars, tattos are big favourite with Saudi youth who go to apprentice artists mostly Filipinos to get it done on their bodies.

Young Saudi men and women are increasingly getting their bodies tattooed and pierced, in often unhygienic and expensive ways.

Tattooists and body piercers that operate in Jeddah are generally Filipinos, who work from their homes and advertise their services by word-of-mouth.

Matar, a young Saudi who works for an advertising agency, told the Arab News that he went to a Filipino tattooist to get a large, permanent tattoo done on his back three years ago. "The man had a mini clinic-like section at his home that contained a dentist chair, professional tattooing equipment and catalogs full of designs," he said.

He added that the man told him that he had worked in a tattoo shop in the US before coming to the Kingdom. Matar said he was initially skeptical, however, after seeing how clean the place and equipment were, he felt relaxed.

After choosing a suitable design, Matar underwent a painful nonstop eight-hour process of having the tattoo placed on the upper side of his back at a cost of SR2,000 ( Rs 20000) However, the Kingdom's religious scholars do not approve of the practice. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Amri, imam of Al-Rajih Mosque in Jeddah, said tattoos are forbidden in Islam and considered sinful. He added that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) clearly stated that tattoos are forbidden as they are an attempt to change Allah's creation.

But often clinics are not as clean everywhere. Arab News accompanied a Saudi girl, who asked her name not be published, to the home of a Filipina body piercer which was smelly and unhygienic.

The woman said she was an expert and cared about hygiene. "I receive many customers who mostly get their belly buttons pierced," she said, adding that the one-minute procedure costs around SR300 (Rs 3000) and the business was good.

Dr Izzat Fahmi, a general practitioner at Al-Hadeel clinic, said that the process of piercing and getting tattoos could serve as a means of transmitting Hepatitis B and C. He added that there is also a risk of people getting infected.

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