x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Shisha and internet cafes scrutinised

A new government body may clamp down on noisy shisha cafes in residential ares and internet cafes that defy regulations.

ABU DHABI // The impact of shisha and internet cafes in residential areas is to be scrutinised by a new government body to ensure they do not have an adverse effect on residents. Officials from the municipality, the Food Control Authority and the tourism, police and health authorities formed a committee last week to investigate the issue. Because many shisha cafes are in or close to residential buildings, their operations can extend to the early hours of the morning especially on weekends and the group was concerned this was disturbing those living in the vicinity, a police statement said.

"The meeting has concluded that a committee should be set-up to study the impact of these cafes on neighbourhoods, health and tourism," the statement read. The manager of Abu Dhabi Community Policing Department, Maj Mubarak bin Mehairoom, criticised some cafes for violating the guidelines and outlined the health risks of second hand smoke. "Smoking in all its forms seems to have increased in our community and awareness campaigns did not have much of an influence on smokers and this continues to harm and endanger non-smokers," the statement read. Those at the meeting also questioned wheather a certain location should be allocated for these cafes in non residential areas. "The Municipality would further recommend places where these establishments could be located instead," Maj Mehairoom said.

In relation to the internet cafes, the group discussed better ways to ensure these business follow the regulations. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority stipulates that Etisalat and Du both restrict the content of websites that violate the laws of the UAE through proxy programs that use keywords to restrict certain content. However, there is speculation that some internet cafes are finding ways around the blocked sites through indirect access known as Virtual Private Networks from other countries. The new committee to be set-up will incorporate tighter regulations and inspections on internet cafes to ensure these establishments are abiding by the law.

myoussef@thenational.ae