Rosy’s: Follow-up on the Gaza spa where Harriet Sherwood got her open-air prison pedicure

Back in June, Akus reported that the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood had taken a break from live blogging in Gaza to get a pedicure.

How was this odd nugget of information discovered?

Sherwood’s Twitter account.

Remarkably, this actually wasn’t the first time Sherwood mentioned Rosy’s.

Her Sept. 17, 2011, report on the lives of ‘average’ Gazans who are “in search of statehood” included a profile on the owner of Rosy’s, Mohamed Faris, and the (no doubt, Israeli blockade-related) problems his struggling prison shop is facing.

[Faris’s]current venture is Rosy’s, the largest beauty salon in Gaza. It offers hairdressing, a beautician, gym facilities and a clothes store.  These are luxuries increasingly few Palestinians can afford.

“I don’t believe any businessman would be able to function in the conditions we are in,” Faris says baldly.

On a good day Rosy’s takes £500. Faris says they should be making £5,000.  Last Thursday, during an escalation in the fighting, Israeli jets dropped a bomb on an empty building behind Rosy’s. The blast shattered every piece of glass in his building, which cost Faris £6,300 to replace. 

However, since Sherwood’s Tweet, we’ve been scratching our collective heads wondering how we could learn more about this boutique open-air prison beauty salon. 

Helpfully, I was able to find a picture of the salon – posted by a blog called, yes, ‘hamaslovers‘.

The author of the post explains the following about Rosy’s:

Rosy has become client for businessmen, landowners, aid workers, journalists, and even the occasional senior Hamas official. “We have the highest quality services in the region,” said Muhammad Faris as he smoked in the daytime of Ramadan, two weeks ago.

He launched the spa a decade ago with his British wife. He told about one of his loyal clients, a woman who worked as an EU (European Union) advisor. “She went to New York and called me from there and said she missed Rosy,” said Faris.

He did not speak carelessly.  His Rosy spa has provided services that create a fit body and a fresh spirit. It has a steam room, a sauna, a small gym, and a beauty parlour. There used to be a Jacuzzi, but Faris had to drain it in 2006 because he could not import the right filters.

I guess the Jacuzzi filters have been placed on the list of restricted items by the IDF.

Here are other photos of Rosy’s which I found.


The caption, in the AFP piece, noted the following:

“Rosy, Gaza’s only spa offers a full range of amenities — a steam room, a sauna, a small gym and a beauty parlour.”

Recently, I spotted a lead on the exact location of the spa: The Al-Mashtal, a luxury hotel in the heart of the Gaza penitentiary which, interestingly, Sherwood herself reported on in August 2011.

Here’s an excerpt from Sherwood’s report on the shocking conditions at the five-star hotel where guests are incarcerated:

“From the hand-carved bed in the al-Mashtal’s royal suite you look straight out to the setting sun casting pink and orange hues over the darkening Mediterranean. Below the expansive terrace, scattered with wicker sun loungers, is a lavish swimming pool set in tastefully landscaped gardens.

Six floors down, polished glasses line the shelves of the hotel’s piano bar. Crisp cotton sheets dress the beds; fluffy bathrobes hang in gleaming bathrooms. Behind the oak reception desk in the vast marble-floored lobby a charming young woman with long curls and a welcoming smile greets visitors.”

Now, here’s the hotel’s promotional video. (At the 1:06 mark you can see what appears to be a beauty salon which would likely offer manicures and pedicures.) 

The website of the Al-Mashtal is, sadly, still under construction.  So, at this point, we are unable to definitively confirm that Rosy’s is, in fact, located in the hotel. 

We’ll update you on this riveting story as more facts about Rosy’s become available.


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21 replies »

  1. I’ll have the ‘Concentration Camp’ perm please. A little longer on the sides, thanks.

    Maybe the free Aza ship on the way can deliver some fresh jacuzzi filters instead of the tons of concrete? And some new flip flops for the pool boy.

    Great post Adam, sometimes it’s like watching a Mel Brooks movie looking at these photos and the Groan’s text. Surreal.

    How can UNRWA claim a society on the verge of collapsing when they have a five star hotel?

    • “How can UNRWA claim a society on the verge of collapsing when they have a five star hotel?”
      Psst. They lie.

  2. Interesting that all the women who appear in the photos wear hijabs, yet the poster-seized photo shown on the wall of the salon shows a woman with big hair and no hijab. Looks like some kind of “mixed message”.

      • I think women often wear hijab on the street, but wear their hair uncovered at home, and sometimes at the office, and want nice hairdos. I recall reading a piece written by a woman visiting family in Iran who talked about her cousins overspraying their hair so that their bangs would stand up to being covered with veils on the way to a wedding.

  3. I’m wondering if they have a tattoo parlor there too. What would Harriet do there? (A hammer and sickle on one cheek and what on the other?)

  4. A jingle for Rosy to broadcast on the Hamas network, or to include in “The Guidebook to Guardian reporters: Gaza”

    If in Gaza you supposes

    Your toeses

    Do not smell like roses

    Just stop in at Rosy’s

    Where toesies

    Smell like posies

  5. Rosy’s manicures are the main pride of the salon of course since hair-does get hidden under the hijab while I suppose that fingers are still allowed to be shown in public, at least for the time being.

      • I saw a lady dressed like that in a photo. I think that if traditional Bedouin would think you were unecessarily covered up, you may have overdone it.