Clamp on alcohol in Bahrain
Manama, November 21, 2010
Bahrain will have just four shops selling alcohol by the end of the month, our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN) has learnt.
Three of them will be located in Mina Salman, while the fourth will be near the Gulf Hotel, according to sources.
New regulations state that each of the four companies selling alcohol over the counter in Bahrain should have only one branch each by November 30.
This means that three existing outlets will have to close down by the end of the month - two located near the Crowne Plaza, in the Diplomatic Area, and one at The Palace hotel, Adliya.
However, sources added measures to prevent off-licences selling alcohol to Muslims had been temporarily put on hold.
'We are implementing the new guidelines which we were given to us in September,' said a senior manager at one of the four companies, who asked not to be identified.
'We have already informed our customers about the closure of one of our outlets and merger with another. We shall complete the move well before the end of the month.'
An official from another company said it would end up with surplus staff after closing one of its outlets, but ruled out any redundancies.
'We have already taken steps to absorb them in our other businesses,' he said.
The GDN reported in September that authorities were considering introducing a new system, which included licensing only certain people to buy alcohol for private consumption and restricting sales to home delivery.
Earlier measures have included a government order issued in November 2002, restricting alcohol sales to non-Muslims only.
Then in 2006, off-licences were ordered to move their outlets to non-residential areas.
Last March, MPs voted unanimously in favour of a law banning alcohol from Bahrain, but the bill was rejected by the Shura Council in May.
Shura Council members said it breached the rights of non-Muslims and referred back to parliament an amended version of the bill, stating that non-Muslims could continue to consume alcohol in designated places and in their homes.
However, MPs objected to the 'designated places' clause and referred further amendments back to the Shura Council, but the bill ran out of time when the four-year National Assembly term ended for summer.
The four companies licensed to sell alcohol in Bahrain are Gulf Brands International, BMMI, African and Eastern and National Hotels Company.-TradeArabia News Service