Shisha cafe owners get grace period extension

Fines will be handed out to cafe owners who repeatedly flout anti-smoking rules, Dubai Municipality has warned.

Dubai is enforcing a law that requires businesses offering shisha to not be located near schools, mosques or residences. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // Cafe owners who repeatedly flout anti-smoking rules will be fined, Dubai Municipality has warned.

The civic body has begun to implement a Federal Law that focuses on shisha smoking in cafes and restaurants.

Businesses have been given an additional month on top of the six-month grace period, which has expired, to allow them more time to comply with the new rules.

“The municipality has completed a comprehensive plan for the implementation of Federal Law No 15 of 2009 and an executive order by the Council of Minsters issued in July,” aid Hussain Nasser Lootah, Dubai Municipality director general.

Under the law, according to Mr Lootah, business owners were required to have a permit to sell tobacco or related products.

The first phase of the legislation prevents cafes and restaurants from allowing shisha smoking near educational institutions, places of worship, hospitals, residential neighbourhoods and shops that do not meet the space requirements.

The second stage includes the regulation of shisha smoking in cafes in shopping malls, hotels and private developments, as well as areas and shops that do not meet other planning and space requirements.

“To give businesses a chance to implement the law clearly, without ambiguity, the civic body has given an additional grace period for the institutions that failed to meet the requirements to correct their situations,” Mr Lootah said.

Businesses have had more than five years to comply with the federal regulations because the conditions are almost the same as those issued in a municipality guide in 2007, he noted.

Marwan Al Mohammed, head of Dubai’s public health and safety department, said the municipality had conducted a field survey of shisha cafes in the emirate before implementing the law.

Businesses must now apply for permission to offer shisha by using a self-service system on the Dubai Municipality health and public safety department website. Permits, Mr Al Mohammed said, would be issued provided that applicants met the conditions set out in the law.

“Penalties will be applied to cafes that have not responded to repeated notices and warnings,” Mr Al Mohammed said, according to approved penalty regulations and within the “smoking regulating guide”.

Shisha cafes can be located in commercial or residential commercial buildings only on approved main streets.

“The distance between the shop and residential buildings or residential neighbourhoods or homes should not be less than 150 metres,” he said.

“The same applies for kindergartens, schools, institutes, colleges and universities.”

The distance between the shop and the mosques or places of worship should not be less than 100 metres and the front of the shop must be facing the main street with a separate entrance.

Cafes must also be isolated from the rest of the building.

“An additional grace period will be given for some cafes in the event of a pledge by owners to abide by the conditions contained in the federal law,” Mr Al Mohammed said.