ABU DHABI // Abdul Latif sat comfortably at the Barista Cafe in the capital's Al Wadha Mall yesterday with a lit cigarette, puffing wisps of smoke into the air.
The fact that it was World No Tobacco Day, or that smoking in Abu Dhabi cafes in malls is prohibited by law, did not seem to phase him - or other smokers nearby.
"All the people come here to smoke," the Moroccan said. "If banned, then who would come?"
In several Abu Dhabi cafes, many people could be seen cozying up to a cup of coffee and a cigarette.
Some welcomed the move of the Abu Dhabi Municipality to enforce rules that ban smoking, while others said it would hurt business and force smokers to go elsewhere.
Shadi Kan'an, manager of the Moka cafe at Abu Dhabi Mall, said: "If smoking is not be allowed here, we would lose our customers, then I will have to shut down our business. We could lose 40 to 60 of our regular customers."
But Lolowa Al Breikey, a UAE national who was enjoying a cup of coffee at the cafe, said: "This a praiseworthy move by the municipality. Now families along with their children can come here.
"[Smoking] is very harmful for kids' health. We hope the UAE would soon be a smoke-free country."
From today, officials said, after an initial warning, establishments in the capital will be fined Dh2,000 for a second offence, Dh4,000 for a third and Dh8,000 for a fourth. After that, establishments will be closed down for as long as a year.
Individuals caught smoking in mall restaurants and cafes can be fined Dh500. The new fines in Abu Dhabi are part of efforts to implement the federal anti-tobacco law, which was issued in early 2009 but has been delayed after a number of setbacks.
In Dubai yesterday, groceries and supermarkets were hesitant to sell cigarettes after they mistakenly thought Dubai Municipality had banned their sale for 24 hours.
Smokers, however, were undeterred by the confusion.
Many did not seem to know that it was the World No Tobacco Day.
"I wasn't aware," said Bryan Ecleo, "but it doesn't really matter. If I want to quit I will."