The signage of the Petmalu Salon in Ajman.


Why expats love this Ajman barbershop with ‘wicked’ name


DUBAI – A humble barbershop run by a Filipino expatriate has brought some life—and many chuckles—in a sleepy corner in Ajman because of its curious name.

There is often a smile on the face of Filipinos who spot the signage that says Petmalu, a Filipino slang for malupit or wicked. Both Filipino and English words are now being loosely used to mean cool or amazing.

The millennial slang has been warmly embraced as part of Filipinos’ penchant for name play. People use it on TV, on social media, and elsewhere. Petmalu indeed! Filipino humour knows no bounds, and this one in Ajman definitely made the cut.

Sid Alvarez, who runs the barbershop with a business partner, said the word stood out as he was looking for ideas for a business name.

“There was only one word in my mind that was catchy and unique that Filipinos use a lot,” Alvarez told in Filipino as the team visited the barbershop in Ajman’s Al Quds Street in Al Rashidiya 2.

“The type that when Filipinos look at it, they will know it is run by Filipinos,” he added.

“It’s fun to see the reactions of customers about the name. Often, when they see it they smile. Most Filipino businesses here run with names that are already common like ‘Manila’, ‘Kabayan’, ‘Pinoy’. At least with our salon’s name we are able to make Filipinos smile and let them forget about homesickness, even for just a few seconds,” Alvarez said.

“The salon name is also a great ice breaker. People come here and comment about the name, and the conversation starts from there,” he said.

And while the salon draws plenty of Filipino customers, it also attracts a diverse crowd. A local man in a kandoura was having his hair and beard trimmed as the Expat Media team got ready for a video shoot. He gave the barber a big tip before he left.

“Going with the name is also challenging because Petmalu or malupit means you really need to show your customers that your services are not only amazing but value for money,” Alvarez said.

“I am happy that my brother’s friend who is an expert hairdresser recommended salon professionals who are now part of our team,” he added.

Jun Neyra, Filipino entrepreneur and Alvarez’s business partner, said he dreams of expanding the business and making Petmalu the go-to men’s salon for “malupit at sulit” (cool and value for money) salon services. FPY/Expat Media

Petmalu Salon

Location: Shop 8, Al Quds Street, Al Rashidiya 2, Ajman
Timings: 12pm to 12am, daily
Contact: 0505817505 or 0559060140


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