DUBAI // This Ramadan, municipal inspectors will strictly enforce tent-safety regulations with the aim of full compliance from residents, hotels and businesses.
To set up a tent during the holy month, permission must be obtained from the municipal planning department.
Under local safety laws, only four- and five-star hotels may apply for a smoking licence. Even then, hotels must comply with the municipality's Manual of Regulating Smoking in Public Places to be eligible to put up a tent.
"When it comes to safety, we should always be strict," said Sultan Essa Al Suwaidi, head of the safety section in the public health and safety department for the municipality. "The objective of our inspections will be to ensure we have full compliance."
Among the requirements, Ramadan tents should be fire-resistant and staff should be trained in all technical and safety aspects to prevent the tent from collapse.
"There should also be enough exits depending on the number of guests. We do not want a tragedy like the sad and unfortunate Kuwait fire which killed many people," said Mr Al Suwaidi, referring to a fire at a wedding ceremony outside Kuwait City in 2009 that killed at least 57 people. Many of the victims were trampled while trying to escape via the sole exit.
"So, we want to see that there are proper entrances and exits for everyone and there should also be on-site staff trained in first aid," he said.
There are also special requirements once smoking is allowed inside a Ramadan tent. The municipality sets ventilation and air conditioning specifications and the tent must be at least 7.6 metres from the main hotel building.
It is also illegal for anyone under 18 to enter a shisha tent.
Other rules include having fire extinguishers clearly visible and tents should not create an inconvenience to neighbouring buildings, to traffic or public parking areas. Civil Defence approval should also be obtained. Violators will face a minimum fine of Dh10,000 for hotels and malls and Dh5,000 for all other establishments.
Fines can rise in accordance with the severity of the violation.
Shakil Ahmed, the general manager of Mumtaz Tents, which has Ramadan tents at many UAE hotels, said the municipality is getting stricter. "We follow all the requirements set by the municipality and it's good they are getting tougher," Mr Ahmed said.
Depending on the size of the tent, there should be an average of 15 to 20 fire extinguishers. For every 300 guests, there should be a minimum of four exits, he added.
It takes Mumtaz Tents four to 10 days to erect a tent, depending on the venue and size.
"We also have in-house inspectors who will visit the sites on a daily basis to make sure there are no problems," Mr Ahmed said.
"Tents should be delivered at least 10 days before Ramadan."