Dubai salons are not selling lice for hair treatment

Old news from 2016 being reshared as new by Pakistani outlets

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Claim: Pakistani outlets wrongly claim that lice are being sold by salons in Dubai.

Fact: It was, in fact, reported by UAE-based publications in 2016 that women visited salons in Dubai to purchase lice for 14 DHS (PKR 600), believing that the lice would help treat hair loss. However, no such practice has been reported recently. Soch Fact Check cannot confirm the veracity of the 2016 reports. 

Fact or Fiction?

On 11 December 2021, Facebook page NNS News claimed in a post that salons in Dubai have started selling lice to treat hair loss.

The post was accompanied by a caption that read as follows:

“دبئی میں جوؤں کی فروخت شروع۔ ۔۔ایک جوں کتنے زیادہ پاکستانی پیسوں میں فروخت ہورہی ہے جان کے یہی کام شروع کردیں گے”
[In Dubai, lice has started to be sold – you will start doing the same after knowing the cost of one louse in Pakistani rupees]

The claim was picked up by multiple Facebook pages, including News Times, Capital News, FunHouse, and Subah News Urdu, among others.

Soch Fact Check found the claim to be misleading as the news dates back to 2016 when various publications reported that salons in Dubai were selling lice as a cure for hair loss.

The 2016 news was reported by different UAE-based publications, as well as international media outlets. Reporting on the incident can be found on Gulf News, Khaleej Times, Scoop Empire, and Al Arabiya English.

Soch Fact Check reached out to the Dubai Municipality to verify the news reported by NNS News. Responding to an email, Senior Public Health Inspection Officer Noor Riyadh Ahmed said, “Dubai Municipality has warned beauty and hair salons against selling lice and [imposed a fine worth] 2,000 DHS [or PKR 95,792] for violators since 2016.”

“No cases of people purchasing lice have been reported since August 2016,” he added. “Dubai Municipality seek[s] public complaints or reports incase such practices [are] found in the emirate of Dubai.”

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for posts on Facebook using the following two search terms:

  • دبئی میں جوؤں کی فروخت شروع
  • Lice Dubai salons

The first search term garnered 17,914 interactions across 71 posts since 1 December 2021.

Posts by Subah News Urdu, News Times, and FunHouse, went viral, gaining as many as 2,900 likes and 458 shares, 2,800 likes and 633 shares, and 2,700 likes and 452 shares, respectively.

Subah News Urdu’s post published 11 January 2022 is also performing 57 times better than other similar posts.

Most of these pages carried the story with the same headline and thumbnail. Some also shared their posts twice on different dates in what appeared to be a clickbait tactic.

The second search term mentioned above has received 2,184 interactions across 10 posts during the six-year period leading up to 18 January 2022.

To trace the original source of the story, Soch Fact Check carried out a Google Search, which revealed that the oldest article dates back to 20 August 2016. That article was published by Gulf News with the headline, “Salons selling lice as hair-loss cure warned.”

Some verified Facebook pages — Khaleej Times, Scoop Empire and Al Arabiya English — also carried the actual story in the same month.

Conclusion: Old news about lice being sold in Dubai salons has been reshared on Facebook along with the claim that the practice was recently reported. The article is misleading and the claim is false. According to authorities in Dubai, no sales of lice have been reported since August 2016 and the practice is illegal in the Emirate.

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