Sheesha cafes in Bahrain corniche to be shut
Manama, October 4, 2009
Sheesha coffee shops on Manama's Al Fateh Corniche are to be closed, to make way for a BD8 million ($21 million) leisure development.
Rules restricting the sale of sheesha at coffee shops elsewhere in the Capital Governorate are also to be soon revised to make them more realistic, say councillors.
Sheesha was banned in certain coffee shops across the country in July last year, but this was suspended a few days later, after a U-turn by municipal officials.
They instigated the ban under regulations dating back to a ministerial decision in November 2006, which also outlaws sheesha smoking in public parks, gardens, on coasts, beaches and corniches.
Coffee shops within 200 metres of homes, hospitals, embassies, educational institutions, government establishments and places of worship are banned from serving sheesha, under the law.
Other regulations insist that coffee shops should instal proper ventilation and meet safety and hygiene standards, before being allowed to serve sheesha.
The 200-metre rule is unrealistic and will be revised, but other restrictions will be enforced, said Manama Municipal Council chairman Majeed Millad Al Jazeeri.
'I don't think that the regulations are difficult to adhere to in our governorate or any other governorate and it is strange they were suspended days after being started with, in July last year,' he said.
'Yes, there is a problem in our governorate with the (200-metre) distance rule and location ban, but that can be revised and we will be looking into it. But suspending regulations was not right.
'The regulations were drawn up in partnership between the Health and Interior ministries, the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife and the municipalities.
'Hopefully, the regulations would be put back on track as we will make changes to them more appropriately.'
Al Jazeeri said that the coffee shops on Al Fateh Corniche were on their way to be closed.
'This decision to close them down was taken way before the ban was imposed and when the sheesha ban was introduced in July last year, they were forbidden to serve sheesha on the corniche - yet they continued to do so,' he said.
'A number of those coffee shops are already working under expired contracts and we have asked the Manama Municipality to close them, with legal action already being sought against them. Take this as a fact as they will be closed down, since development to turn the place into a proper public area is going ahead.'
A BD8 million project to develop the corniche is expected to begin in July next year. The 153,430 sq/m development would include recreational and family areas, with access to the seafront, as well as restaurants and cafes.
'The closure will be done gradually, with those with new contracts being kept until the last phase, to avoid paying any compensation,' said Al Jazeeri.-TradeArabia News Service