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Sheesha cafes in residential areas have drawn criticism for exposing their
neighbours to excessive noise and smell

New sheesha strip plan in Bahrain is approved

MANAMA, January 5, 2015

A sheesha strip planned for the far south of Sitra island, Bahrain featuring more than 40 cafes in a new-look complex has won approval from the government.

Plans for the complex were initially put forward more than two years ago by the now defunct Central Municipal Council, whose members wanted to relocate all existing sheesha cafes to municipal land near Al Bander Hotel and Resort, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

Objections were raised by officials at the former Central Municipality that the area earmarked for the project was too small, but after further study the council submitted a new proposal that has now been approved by the Works, Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry.

Discussions are due to take place today between ministry officials and the Southern Municipal Council, under whose remit the land to the south of Sitra island now falls following September's boundary shake-up that marked the end of the Central Governorate.

Southern Municipal Council chairman Ahmed Al Ansari, who originally backed the idea for a sheesha complex in his former role as a member of the Central Municipal Council, told the GDN that there was still a question mark over how the plan would be implemented.

“There are problems associated with cafes being located within residential areas,” said Al Ansari.

“But we can't force owners or customers to move to the proposed new sheesha cafes complex in Sitra, for obvious reasons - it will be away from people and is not that attractive an area to conduct business.

“This will not be a problem with a proper marketing strategy, since smokers will go anywhere they can feel relaxed.

“But it needs to be made clear if the plan will involve forcing existing cafes to move or only affect new cafes, which will be obliged to open there.”

Al Ansari said that the proposed complex would be the first of its type in the region and had the potential to bring in a lot of revenue for the Southern Municipality, especially given the restrictions on new sheesha cafes in markets, residential neighbourhoods and malls imposed by the anti-smoking law that was ratified by His Majesty King Hamad in 2009.

“For someone who wants to open a sheesha cafe, this would be a good way, as everyone is happy - residents are not subjected to the noise and smoke and investors will not find their business plans shelved,” he said.

“If the resort at Al Bander is getting huge business, then this new complex can also, because it is the name that matters most these days.

“We hope that more about the plan will be outlined when we meet ministry officials, as we can either have the place tendered for construction or opened up for bidders.”

Today's discussions are expected to focus on whether the government will build the proposed complex, or have each investor build his own unit on long-term leases. - TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahrain | plan | cafe | Sheesha | strip |

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