World cup ban on shisha cafes

The municipality says now is the perfect time for shisha cafes to make the move - although owners who do not will not face penalties for the time being.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Ð March 18, 2008: Moustafa Ramadan prepares shisha in an Abu Dhabi Cafe. (Photo by Ryan Carter / The Nation)
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FUJAIRAH // Shisha cafes in Fujairah will be asked to move permanently to the outskirts of the city before the World Cup finals kick off on Friday, in a move aimed at reducing noice nuisance. The municipality says now is the perfect time for shisha cafes to make the move - although owners who do not will not face penalties for the time being. The ban on shisha cafes in residential areas was part of the Federal National Tobacco Law issued this year, which also specified a two-year grace period.

"We will try to organise them to relocate to the beginning of Fujairah city where it will not bother any non-smokers," said Mohamed al Afkham, the head of the municipality. "The World Cup is coming and a lot of shisha cafes will be open in the day and late at night." Some in the city remained unaware today of the official encouragement to move. Fujairah Media is erecting a tent beside Fujairah Tower - which is located in the heart of the city - that will serve shisha and show World Cup matches.

"It will open from four o'clock in the afternoon until four o'clock in the morning," said Sufian al Aqrabawi, the company's chief engineer. "Noise won't be any problem. Everybody likes to to watch a football match or a movie with shisha," he said. "There are so many cafes here." A daily smoker of double apple-flavoured tobacco, Mr al Aqrabawi said he would continue his habit even if it was banned from the city centre. "In the end I will take it in my home," he said. Others welcomed the move. Major Ahmed Ibrahim, the managing director of the Fujairah International Marine Club, said it was "perfect". "It is a noise problem, number one. Number two, it is insecure for the family to have 50 or 60 bachelors sitting there," he said. "Women passing by don't feel comfortable, and besides, it's unhealthy to have the shisha. Smokers should have an area only for smoking." Noise from the cafes near his home is a constant problem during sporting events, he said. "They make a demonstration, they drive in the car, they make too much noise, they shout and scream at shisha," he said of customers. Fujairah's Arabian Drive-In Cinema, where shisha will delivered to customers' vehicles, will not be affected by the city ban because it is located out of doors. In January, the Ajman Municipality stopped issuing new licences for shisha cafes in residential areas. Cafes were given two years to relocate, as per the law. Shisha cafes in Ras al Khaimah expect business to double each night during the World Cup. "For Brazil and Egypt [matches] we always get more customers, but in the World Cup every seat will be taken, every table will be full," said Yassir Mahdi, 33, a worker at the Manhattan Cafe, which has more than 270 seats. Profits during the World Cup could leap from Dh750 a night to more than Dh4,000, he said. Shisha cafes in Ras al Khaimah will remain open at night as long as there are customers to serve, say their owners. Musaab al Mahi, 23, from Sudan, said there was no better place to watch football. "We go to shisha for football because we like to sit with our friends," he said. "It's better than sitting alone in my house."