UAE: National service prompts 'surge' in tattoo removal

A man has a tattoo removed

Doctors in the United Arab Emirates are expecting to see a surge in numbers of young men getting tattoos removed, as the body art won't be permitted under a new law introducing national service, it's been reported.

With the first round of recruitment under way, many eligible men between the ages of 18-30 are falling foul of the military's ban on body art, The National newspaper reports. It's not unusual for young Emirati men and women to get tattoos, even though they've been forbidden by Muslim scholars, and one dermatologist expects many young men to undergo laser removal before they report for duty. "They have usually been applied at home using non-sterile instruments: rarely are they done professionally in ink parlours," says Dr Hassan Galadari. "Tattoos may fall out of popularity among UAE youth with the introduction of national service."

Nearly 10,000 Emiratis are being considered for the first batch of conscripts - including all 2014 high school graduates, apart from academic high-achievers. But only 7,000 recruits will begin training in January because of limited capacity at the training camps, the National said last month. The penalty for avoiding national service is 50,000 dirhams ($13,600; £8,200) and up to a year in prison, with the maximum fine doubled if the recruit injures himself on purpose or fakes illness to try to escape, the UAE government says.

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