x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Shisha cafes pushed to remote areas

Authorities in the Northern Emirates are telling shisha cafe owners to move to remote or industrial areas as part of anti-tobacco laws.

People enjoy shisha at Al Sindibad Coffee Shop & Cafeteria in the Nuaimiya area in Ajman.
People enjoy shisha at Al Sindibad Coffee Shop & Cafeteria in the Nuaimiya area in Ajman.

SHARJAH // Authorities in the Northern Emirates are telling shisha cafe owners to move to remote or industrial areas as part of anti-tobacco laws.

The Ministry of Health in 2009 introduced anti-smoking laws that are scheduled to take effect next year. The law includes a requirement for all shisha cafes to relocate to remote areas.

Shisha cafe owners in Ajman said they had received notices from the municipality telling them they must relocate before they could renew their licences.

"We have already received a notice from the municipality and are looking into finding another good place outside town," said Abu Hamza, the owner of Zaman Al Layali cafe on Ajman Corniche Road.

"Our business could be affected, losing good addresses, but the health of people is more important than businesses. The Rulers made a good decision."

Ajman has many shisha cafes in areas such as Nuaimiya near Safeer Mall, the Corniche and Karama. Residents there had long complained about patrons staying late and causing disturbances.

"It's not going to be a health solution alone but also a social one," said Hussein Bayati, a resident of Karama. "Here, the noise is so much at night that one cannot sleep. Having all shisha cafes going is a very good thing."

Ajman Municipality was not available for a comment.

The Umm Al Qaiwain Department of Economic Development has also stopped granting new licences and renewing old ones in residential areas and the city, said Sheikha Al Shamsi, its head of health inspection.

"We have already sent out a notice informing existing cafes in the city to find new places in remote areas like industrial areas if they are to renew their licences with us," Ms Al Shamsi said.

"We shall also continue coordinating with other departments to monitor all shisha cafes in these remote areas and ensure that they are meeting all health standards."

Sharjah is leading the way with the law. The emirate does not have shisha cafes in any of its cities because of a Ruler's ban long ago, said Sultan Al Mualla, the director general of the municipality.

"We have not issued a single trading licence to any shisha cafe for the past 11 years," Mr Al Mualla said. "His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed, the Ruler of Sharjah, banned shisha and shisha cafes in the Emiri decree No 1 of 2000, in which all public smoking was banned."

The Sharjah Department of Municipal and Agricultural Affairs issued another ruling in 2008 banning smoking in enclosed public places including hospitals, restaurants, salons and public transport among others, he said.

It also set a fine of Dh1,000 for an individual offender and between Dh10,000 to Dh20,000 for an institution or shop that violated the law.

ykakande@thenational.ae