x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

'If it's good for health, we'll move'

Officials in the Northern Emirates have stopped renewing the licences of businesses that allow shisha smoking in residential areas.

Authorities in the Northern Emirates have stopped renewing the licences of shisha cafes in residential areas.

"All shisha cafes in these areas have been notified to move to remote areas if they intend to renew their licences," a spokesman for Ajman Municipality and Planning Directorate said.

Residents in areas such as Nuaimiya near Safeer Mall, the Corniche and Karama have complained about shisha cafes staying open late at night.

Once the ban is enforced, several business may have to close because their customers are used to having these places near the city, said Mohamoud, a coffee shop owner near Safeer Mall. "If the municipality sends us to remote areas, business would have to start from scratch and most of our clients would be lost," he said. "But if it is for the good of people's health we shall be happy to relocate."

Umm Al Qaiwain has also stopped granting new licences or renewing old ones in residential areas. "We have already sent a notice telling existing cafes in the city to find new places in remote areas, like industrial areas, if they are to renew their licences with us," said Sheikha Al Shamsi, head of health inspection at the Department of Economic Development.

Sharjah already leads the way in the smoking ban. The emirate has had no shisha cafes in residential areas since the Ruler, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed, banned it in 2000.

"We have not issued a trading licence to any shisha cafe for the past 11 years," said Sultan Al Mualla, director general of the Municipality.

In 2008, Sharjah banned smoking in enclosed public places such as hospitals, restaurants, salons and public transport. Smokers face a fine of Dh1,000, rising to Dh20,000 for an institution or shop.

ykakande@thenational.ae