DUBAI // The municipality yesterday announced a ban on smoking shisha at beaches, parks and other family areas as part of moves to stamp out smoking in public places. The target forms part of Dubai's Strategic Plan for 2007 to 2015, which aims to protect public health and improve the quality of life for residents. Salem bin Mismar, the assistant director general of the municipality's Health, Safety and Environment Department said yesterday that children who visit the city's parks, beaches and other recreational areas with their families were more likely to be harmed by people smoking there.
Mr bin Mismar urged shisha smokers to abide by the decision and to co-operate with those in charge of the areas. Last year the authority banned shisha cafes from operating in neighbourhoods that have been classified as purely residential areas. In mixed commercial and residential areas, cafes had to move smoking indoors and make changes to their ventilation systems. Outdoor shisha cafes in other areas must have special licences.
Cafes caught flouting the rules faced heavy fines and even closure. News of the ban was welcomed by shisha smokers and non-smokers enjoying the fresh air at Jumeirah's public beach. Sabryali el Khouly, 42, a non-smoker from Sharjah who was enjoying a picnic with his family and two young grandsons, said: "We would prefer this, of course. It's a good thing, a very nice thing not to have smoke around the children."
Kevin Stedman, 51, a British expatriate who has been in Dubai for five years, echoed those sentiments, although he said he had never seen anybody smoking on the beach. "I don't think it's particularly nice when you are on a beach where there are a lot of children," Mr Stedman said. Anees Jibreen, a 26-year-old Palestinian born and raised in the UAE, felt the move would make going to the beach more enjoyable.
"I smoke shisha but only at cafes," Mr Jibreen said. "However I don't think that the move will harm the public image. If I'm a tourist and I don't know what shisha is, I may think people are smoking other things on the beaches, which is not good. "When you go to a beach you expect nice clean and fresh air and an environment which is relaxing. When you see people smoking shisha and you can smell it, then you don't feel relaxed.
"But people don't do it a lot any more. I would say only one in 50 for the past couple of years." firstname.lastname@example.org