Sunday 23 January 2022

Alcohol ban 'will ruin restaurants'

Manama, March 24, 2009

Bahrain's restaurant industry would be decimated by an alcohol ban proposed by MPs, industry leaders declared.

Some would be forced out of business, jobs would go and tourists would look to other countries, say restaurateurs.

Parliament is to vote next week on a proposal from its services committee to ban alcohol in all free-standing restaurants, which are not part of hotels.

This follows hot on the heels of earlier votes to ban alcohol sales at Bahrain International Airport and Gulf Air.

Any decision by parliament must also go through the Shura Council and the Cabinet before it can become law.

Restaurateurs say they hope this never happens, saying it would cripple business - particularly in the fashionable Adliya area.

Meat Company general manager Hussein Al Araibi said he would be demanding compensation if the proposed ban becomes law - and criticised MPs for not looking to the future.

'There is no vision when it comes to this country,' he told our sister Gulf Daily News yesterday.

'For us, alcohol is a source of revenue, without that revenue, what are we going to do, just fire people because we cannot afford to pay them?

'I am a Muslim myself, but not a fanatic. I'm more open.

'If some people want to go to the mosque, there will be a mosque close by, if some people want to go to have a drink in a restaurant, there will be a restaurant nearby - that is the way it is.

'If people in villages don't agree with alcohol then that is fine, I fully respect the culture, but then keep one non-residential area free for the restaurants to continue to work.

'I think if the ban is passed, it will reduce our revenue by about 50 or 60 per cent and I will not be able to renew many contracts.

'We also have a commitment to investors and it would take a long time to repair something so damaging.

'We have a licence to sell alcohol and we are based in a tourist area away from any residential area.

'If the MPs want to ban alcohol in restaurants, then I think they have to find space in hotels for people to continue their businesses.

'People say that all restaurants in Adliya are in competition but, in fact, we complement each other and we are all working hard to try to promote Bahrain.'

Al Zayani Company managing director Faieq Al Zayani, representing Cico's and Havana restaurants, also criticised the thinking behind the ban.

'This country is being run down by people who don't think sensibly and by saying they are going to ban alcohol they are damaging the name of this country around the world,' he said.

'This decision will just stop people coming to Bahrain. But Bahrain needs visitors and tourists and restaurants and alcohol are all part of that.

'People have put a lot of money into these restaurants and if this ban goes ahead, we could lose up to 60 per cent of our sales. So there would have to be a lot of negotiations and compensation.'

Cafe Italia restaurant general manager Cyrus Graesslin acknowledged that the ban would have a huge impact on business.

'It's difficult to say because I can see it from both sides, both as a restaurateur and as a citizen living in a foreign country,' he explained.

'From a business sense, I don't think it would kill us, but it would definitely hurt and not only us but all the restaurants in Adliya.

'Alcohol probably accounts for about 30 to 40 per cent of our sales but I know for some it's even higher.'

Graesslin acknowledged that the country had a right to change its laws, but said the impact on business could be huge.

'We are fortunate that Bahrain is not completely dry already, but when you come to live in a place like this, you have to know that things can change and we jus

Tags: Bahrain | Ban | law | Restaurants | alcohol |

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