Coronavirus: Dubai bans shisha pipes with immediate effect

The emirate follows Abu Dhabi in placing restrictions to limit spread of coronavirus

Dubai and Abu Dhabi banned the sale of shisha to help to limit the spread of coronavirus. AFP
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Shisha has been banned in cafes across Dubai with immediate effect in an effort to stem the flow of new coronavirus cases.

The two-week ban in the emirate follows similar restrictions announced on Wednesday placed on establishments selling water pipes in Abu Dhabi.

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have also implemented national restrictions on the popular tobacco products, outlawing the sale of hookah pipes until further notice to protect public health.

A statement was issued by Dubai Media Office via social media on Thursday.

“As part of the precautionary measures to ensure public health, Dubai’s Department of Economic Development and Dubai Municipality direct all shisha cafes and coffee shops to stop serving shisha immediately, and for two weeks,” it said.

Establishments found to be flouting the banning order could face prosecution and fines.

Shisha pipes have become a staple of society across the Middle East and are popular with tourists.

Although plastic tips are offered with communal pipes to inhale tobacco, they are rarely used increasing the risk of transmitting viruses like Covid-19.

Speaking to The National, Mohammad Shahidur, a supervisor at Mondo Pizzeria restaurant at the Abu Dhabi Country Club, said he received news of the shisha ban on Wednesday at around 7pm.

"The manager told us stop serving shisha to new customers and to let whoever was already having shisha to finish," he said.

"We get between 55 to 60 customers everyday, and on weekends up to 90. Ninety per cent of them come for shisha and of course they order other things like food and drinks as well."

Rawan Fawaz, 29, a housewife from Palestine who lives in the capital, said she bought one kilogram of shisha tobacco on Wednesday night to smoke at home after learning about of the ban.

“I'm a bit disappointed because for me shisha was a social activity," she said. "I used to go out every Thursday to smoke shisha with my friends.

"Now, I don’t know if they would be willing to go out for coffee only. I really hope the coronavirus cloud passes quickly.”