Sea front coffee shops face Sheesha ban
Manama, June 16, 2008
Seafront coffee shops on a popular Manama coastline will be banned from serving sheesha from next month, after an earlier deadline was postponed.
Warnings have been sent by the Manama Municipality to seven coffee shops located on the Al Fateh Corniche to stop serving sheesha by July 1, after complaints that an earlier deadline was impossible to achieve.
Most of the coffee shops are currently without contracts after their old agreements expired last year. The ban clause has been included in the new contracts, which coffee shops have to comply with or shut down.
The clampdown on smoking on the corniche comes shortly before plans to turn the area into a state-of-the-art, 5km public resort were announced.
Tenants on various parts of the corniche will be given a three-month notice to vacate their businesses once plans are finalised and work starts.
Dolphin Park and the Coral Beach Club will also be affected, but will be given priority in the new resort when it is completed since they have contracts to operate in the area up to 2012.
A ministerial decision published in the Official Gazette already bans sheesha smoking in public parks, gardens, coasts, beaches and corniches.
Municipality director-general Abdulkarim Hassan told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication, that the earlier deadline was impossible to achieve due to the short notice given to coffee shops.
"This is why we decided to postpone it for a month to allow owners of those coffee shops to consider whether they would like to stay under the new terms or leave," he said.
"Now the deadline has been set and starting July 1, anyone found serving sheesha will face legal action.
"The ban should have been enforced a long time ago, but we didn't want coffee shops to be out of business, so we decided to give them time."
Mr Hassan said the coffee shops have other sources of income and the sheesha ban wouldn't affect their business much.
"They (the coffee shops) already depend on other sources of income, like serving coffee and tea and other beverages, in addition to food, which they can improve to make up for their losses from sheesha sales," he said.
"It is easy to have all the coffee shops removed from the area, since their contracts have ended, and if they want to stay, then it should be without sheesha under new regulations at the corniche.
"The Dolphin Park and Coral Beach Club, whose contracts end in 2012, will also be told to stop serving sheesha, considering that the ban includes all those with existing and expired contracts.
"There will be no exceptions. Everyone will be told to stop serving sheesha."
Hassan said that coffee shops serving only sheesha were being removed from all public places and replaced with family-oriented projects.
"Public places are for families and not for groups of youth to smoke sheesha," he said.
"For years, families have complained that they had no place to go to and numerous coffee shops had been removed from public parks and gardens like Al Bowara, Al Meshal and Al Andalus, to accommodate them.
"Leasing public places as coffee shops serving sheesha is a direction previous municipal officials have taken, but things have changed and our focus is mostly on families."
Hassan said all outlets would be allowed to remain until plans are finalised to turn the corniche into a public resort.
"Everyone will be told to leave three months before work officially begins," he said.
"Everything will be torn down to pave way for the resort, which will have a very modern concept," he added-TradeArabia News Service