For three years, Mosul’s women were covered in black from head to toe and its men had to keep their beards long.
Salons were shut, and plastic surgery considered a crime.
But more than a year after the Islamic State group’s ouster, the Iraqi city is flaunting its more fabulous side.
Need to zap away a scar or a burn? Cover up a bald spot with implants?
Whiten teeth for a dazzling smile? Mosul’s plastic surgeons and beauticians are at your service.
Raji Najib, a Syrian living in Mosul, recently made use of the city’s aesthetic offerings.
Beauty clinics are now doing a bustling trade in Mosul offering services which were ruled to be illegal under ISIS rule
An Iraqi woman (left) and man (right) get a lip injection at a beauty clinic in the northern Iraqi city
The 40-year-old had long been self-conscious of his bald spots, until his Iraqi friends told him what had worked for them — hair implants at a new clinic in their hometown.
‘They told me the equipment was modern, the nurses competent and the prices good,’ Najib said.
In Mosul, the average hair implant procedure costs around $800, including the follow-up after the operation.
Nearly 90 kilometres (50 miles) to the east in Iraq’s Arbil, or even further north in Turkey, the same operation costs at least $1,200.
Plasma injections to prevent hair loss cost around $63 in Mosul, but at least $20 more in Arbil.
In addition to the difference in price, Najib would have had to put up money and time for 신사역피부과 travel.
An Iraqi woman undergoes a high-tech facial treatment at a newly-opened aesthetic clinic
Members of the Iraqi security forces recently celebrated in the city to mark the first anniversary of the victory over the Islamic State (IS) group
‘Going to a clinic in Mosul is much easier, as I don’t have time to travel outside Mosul,’ he told AFP.
Decades ago, only one department in Mosul’s hospitals offered plastic surgery, and only to those who had a severe accident or were trying to eliminate a physical handicap from birth.
Mosul, and Iraq more broadly, have been shaken by waves of conflict since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and paved the way for a sectarian war.
Religious hardliners forced women to cover up or stay at home, and extremists in particular targeted hairdressers, many of whom closed their shops in fear.
Another shock came in 2014 when the Islamic State group swept across much of Iraq’s north, with the jihadists making Mosul their de facto capital.
The religious police of IS enforced ultra-strict rules on dress for all residents, making sure women showed no skin and men wore ankle-length capris and long beards, with no moustache.
A hairdresser styles the hair of a customer at a beauty salon. Five beauty clinics are said to have opened up since ISIS were routed from the city
The religious police of IS enforced ultra-strict rules on dress for all residents, making sure women showed no skin and men wore ankle-length capris and long beards, with no moustache
The city has since gotten a makeover.
Five beauty clinics have opened since Mosul was recaptured last summer by Iraqi security forces, and they can hardly keep up with the flow of customers, most of them men.
Muhannad Kazem told AFP he was the first to relaunch his city’s beauty business with his clinic, Razan, which offers teeth whitening services and other dental care.
‘The employees came from Lebanon, and the treatments and machines were imported,’ said Kazem, 40.
The city’s medical services were hit hard by IS’s three-year reign and the months-long battle to oust it.
According to reports, the new beauty clinics can hardly keep up with the flow of customers
Most of the clinics’ customers are said to be men who go in for the same skin and hair treatments as women