Palestinian barber says cutting hair since 1945 saved him from imprisonment

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In the alleyways of the old city of Nablus in the northern West Bank, just 49 kilometers away from Jerusalem, Waleed Halawa opens up the turquoise door to his barbershop, the oldest in the country. He proceeds to check on his seven decade long companions – his barber tools- in his humble tenure.

At 90 years old, Halwa talks about the years of being one of Palestine’s oldest barbers, and how it all started because of his overprotective father.

“He wouldn’t even let a fly near me,” he told Al Arabiya’s morning show.

Barbershop a ‘safe space’

Halawa says how it was common in Nablus that anyone born “after a girl would end up dying”.

“He’d always tell me that you’ve got one foot in prison and the other on the land,” Halawa quoted his long departed father as saying.

The only place that lived up to Halawa’s father’s safety standards was the barbershop, where he has been since 1945.

Abu Hasan, born in 1928, has just blew out his 90th birthday candle with his family.

He recalls that the highlight of his birthday were his daughters. One, who now works in the municipality, sang joyfully as he blew out his candles while the other surprised him with four to five balloons that someone had inflated with cigarettes.

“The balloons were all different in color,” he said excitedly as he told the story.

Full of laughter, he said that his party was “so funny” that day.

With a smile never leaving his face, Halawa never stops making jokes even when talking about his late wife who had passed 11 years ago. He remembers fondly how she used to question why so many women would visit his shop and he’d make light of the situation.

Sitting in a colorful room with his canary he feels the loneliest with nothing is there soothe him, but his cassette player that only plays Fareed Al Atrash’s songs keeps him company along with his beloved barber shop.

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