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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 27th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

nbsp;www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.as…

Oman- No ban on sheesha cafes

(MENAFN – Times of Oman) Even as the Muscat Municipality recently decided to ban smoking in public places, citizens are confused as to whether the ban would also be applicable to Sheesha cafes in the city.

“I wish the decision to ban smoking is extended to the sheesha cafes,” said Hussein Al Rahbi, an employee at a private company.

“As it amounts to passive smoking, which again is harmful,” he said.

The Muscat Municipality has decided to ban smoking from April this year. As per the directives, smoking is banned in enclosed and semi-enclosed places, which have been, according to the municipality, declared as public places.

The decision to ban smoking was initiated keeping in mind the complaints from the local people and for providing a healthy atmosphere at public places.

Said Mahmoud Al Hashmi, a civil servant, said some of the sheesha cafes are in the proximity of houses and as a result residents are sometimes exposed to smoke from these sheesha cafes.

He further said that the Muscat Municipality should impose certain conditions on the cafes that would also take into account the health of the people residing in nearby houses.

Another resident, Saud Alsalmi, says that sometimes people staying in the vicinity of these Sheesha cafes are forced to face the unbearable noise and shouting that emanate from these cafes until midnight, especially during football matches.

The entire neighbourhood faces significant problems at such times in terms of parking spaces for their vehicles.

Aslam, manager of a sheesha restaurant, said: “If the Muscat Municipality decides to extend the ban to sheesha cafes, it would lead to a great loss for the cafes. We have been paying for licences, health cards for workers, rent, fines and sponsor’s allowance. If smoking in Sheesha is banned, it would be better the government bans cigarettes altogether,” said Aslam.

He added that in such a scenario let the Sheesha cafes in the city be relocated to some remote areas where they will not pose any threat to the health of citizens.

Suleiman bin Hamoud Al Kindi, director-general of the Muscat Municipality, said, “The executive of the municipality is currently working out the norms that fall under the local order to comply with the application (of the ban) from the beginning of next April.”

Ibrahim Alhsni of the media department of the Muscat Municipality, said, “The decision on ban does not cover sheeshas.”

However, he said that many residents had been complaining about the Sheesha cafes and demanding that they be relocated from near their houses.

By Fahad Al Mukrashi

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