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Katara to ban shisha smoking in public on Jan. 1, 2015

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Citing health reasons, management at Katara Cultural Village has decided to ban shisha smoking in most places there, starting Jan. 1, 2015, a representative confirmed to Doha News.

The new rule, which was distributed in the form of a letter from management to businesses operating at Katara, means that all eateries currently serving shisha must not do so in public.

Once the ban takes effect, it appears that at least three restaurants at Katara will need to severely restrict their shisha services: Sukar Pasha Ottoman Lounge, Mamig and Khan Farouk Tarab Cafe.

Katara’s decision comes amid a push from doctors and authorities in Qatar and across the Gulf to reduce the public’s consumption of shisha, due to the severe health risks.

The effects of smoking shisha are still under study, but doctors here have said it could be 10 times worse than smoking cigarettes.

Elsewhere in Qatar

Earlier this year, Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC) held its first annual conference on waterpipe smoking research.

At the time, Tawfik A.M. Khoja, the director-general of the GCC Health Ministers’ executive board, said that a public ban on shisha could help reduce the social appeal of engaging in the activity:

“Users tend to smoke with friends in cafes and other public places,” he said. “There should be policies banning the use of shisha in public places, which may help prevent and reduce shisha smoking.”

Smoking at Souq Waqif

But banning the popular past time in Qatar has been met with resistance.

Last year for example, restaurants and cafes at the popular Souq Waqif were told to stop serving the pipe indoors and to section their outdoor premises into smoking and non-smoking areas. Outlets that failed to do so were supposed to lose their shisha license for at least three months.

But the rule was quickly withdrawn by souq management, after managers of shisha-serving outlets complained that queues of people were waiting to smoke in the designated section while non-smoking tables remained empty.

Katara’s enforcement

At Katara, management at Armenian-Lebanese restaurant Mamig and Egyptian eatery Khan Farouk Tarab told Doha News that they are currently devising ways to obey the new rule, but still supply hookah to customers who ask for it.

A representative of Mamig, however, added that the restaurant’s owners are not that concerned about the new rule:

“We are famous for our excellent cuisine and customers come for our food as well as the option to have shisha.”

The restaurant already has an upper-floor and outside area dedicated to smokers only, away from all non-smoker customers.

Meanwhile, employees at Sukar Pasha Ottoman Lounge said the restaurant would observe the new rule by serving shisha in closed-off areas, away from the public eye.

This will apparently be done by using some 30 tents set-up outside the restaurant, facing the beachfront.

Sukar Pasha's outside area
Sukar Pasha’s outside area

But to use one, customers would have to reserve a full tent at a cost. Renting a majilis is the cheapest option, at QR500. An open-roofed tent with a sea-view costs QR1,500 and a “closed” tent fit with air-conditioning, a television and sofas costs QR2,000.

Despite Sukar Pasha’s use of beach tents, an employee of the restaurant told Doha News that business may be affected by the public shisha smoking ban:

“We’re not happy with the ban as many of our customers come to us, especially for our custom-made shisha – particularly the Qataris. They then of course order food while enjoying their shisha. Not everybody wants to smoke in a tent and renting them out costs money. All we can do is see what happens.”

While Sukar Pasha insists its new system adheres to Katara management’s new rule, smoking indoors is illegal in Qatar.

However, enforcement of the law is lax, and many people can still regularly be seen smoking cigarettes and shisha inside malls, restaurants and cafes.

Meanwhile, for the past several months, authorities have said that a stricter, anti-smoking law is expected to be passed “soon.”

Will you be affected by the new smoking rules at Katara? Thoughts?

65 COMMENTS

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MN
MN
5 years ago

RIP Katara

DEEM
DEEM
5 years ago
Reply to  MN

Yep, that will pretty much kill it off.
I am skeptical about the “10 times as bad as cigarettes” comment… frankly research has hardly started and they have no idea of the health implications – it could be only one tenth as bad when the research is done – they just don’t know. This, I think is erring on the side of caution in the extreme.
To be honest, I find the smell of a shisha being smoked quite pleasant, and one of the characteristics I will most associate with my time here, when the day comes for us to finally leave.
I would have understood it better if they had banned it indoors… but left the patio areas and roof terraces alone. All that will happen now is it will drive it indoors… without fresh air circulating as well, the effects – however severe they turn out to be – must surely be made far worse.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  DEEM

Actually research done by Cornell researchers here says 25x as harmful.

DEEM
DEEM
5 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Cornell is an American university, right? I am afraid I have learned to mostly ignore American views on smoking, as the most tobacco-facist country in the world. A country where selling crack cocaine in the office reception and people look the other way. Light a cigarette on a New York sidewalk, however…. Well… Try it. See what happens. And this from the country that practically invested the practice in the first place.

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago
Reply to  DEEM

I smoke on the streets if NYC all the time. Never a problem so not sure WTH you’re talking about on that subject or with “selling crack cocaine in the office reception and people look the other way”. Yes Cornell is an American institution but many profs are arab as were these researchers. Oh so American, and other nationalities of researchers have shown what smoking does to your body so they are fascist now?

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
5 years ago
Reply to  MN

They said the same about the Pearl when booze was banned, and guess what? It’s doing pretty well and new restaurants and shops are still opening.

Masboro
Masboro
5 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

The Pearl ‘doing pretty well’? Yes more restaurants and shops are opening but other long established ones are closing. It is only reaching a fraction of its potential and Katara is exactly the same.

Edward
Edward
5 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

The Pearl is not doing well at all. Most residences and retail spaces are vacant — population rate has been far below projections, construction on new areas toward the back has stalled, there is no Porto Arabia hotel, virtually no outlets are profitable there.

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
5 years ago
Reply to  Edward

That the Pearl is not doing as well as was projected doesn’t prove that the banning of alcohol is the reason why. Nor does it prove that the decision to ban was wrong.

Moreover, I visit the Novo cinema there often, and I see lots of people dining at Nandos, especially during the weekend. Spinnys there is also doing well. T.G. Fridays just opened there. Businesses have to adjust, that’s how it works.

Edward
Edward
5 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

You’re right that there isn’t enough evidence to assert that the Pearl is not doing well because of the alcohol ban. (Though my company has multiple investments there, and that’s what we believe from our market research, and I have heard the same from a handful of other operators or would-be operators — of course, this is just anecdotal evidence and it’s impossible to know at a macro level.)
However, I do still believe “that the decision to ban was wrong” from a business-climate standpoint. To link to the points that I made about Katara, it’s just not fair when a landlord or the government (which are one and the same in the cases of Katara and now The Pearl) changes the rules mid-stream after one has invested in a business. Even worse in the case of The Pearl, where the alcohol licensing regime is still nominally in place — the landlord’s decision to suspend alcohol sales was made outside any legal process, not even put in writing or really explained, and announced as temporary (three years ago). So how can any investor have confidence in Qatar?

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago

Good decision but I’m sure the ban wasn’t driven by health concerns ..

Sminto Antony [sAm]
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

Sorry I’m curious as to what else is it then ?

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago

The imperialist powers of the west hating on all things Arab, specifically Qatari and against Islam covertly. Big western tobacco companies gave their full support.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
5 years ago

Maybe by heavily restricting sheesha at Katara it will be a great way to encourage people to visit Souq Waqif. I wonder if there’s a link between the people who suggest these laws, and the people who run Souq Waqif…

Althani
Althani
5 years ago
Reply to  A_qtr

I think it’s really for the image of Katara, A lot of people started relating it with shisha and it’s not a very family friendly image they want to go by

Cerebus
Cerebus
5 years ago
Reply to  Althani

Spot on – they are building a kids mall there – so yes it does not match the color of what they envision Katara to be. Either its a cultural center with families in mind or a place for dudes to hang out and smoke Shisha.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
5 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

From what I can tell, most people who drive in to Katara never seem to get out of their vehicles. They drive up to the juice stall, turn around, drive to the roundabout, turn around, drive to the juice stall, turn around, drive to the karak shop, drive to the roundabout, drive to the juice stall, turn around, drive to the beach, drive past the ice cream shop, drive to the karak, drive to the juice stall, drive to the roundabout…. and then when they get bored of that they drive to The Pearl. Because… reasons.

Cerebus
Cerebus
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

True….this is why every Land Cruiser for sale in a country less than 150 KM in length can have 400K racked up in 2 years time. Its like the Yas Marina Circuit, only slower, more crowded, and everyone loses.

Edward
Edward
5 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

Hilarious comment.

Althani
Althani
5 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

Yeah i thought that was the case, Because they always try to advertise themselves as a cultural ‘7ey el thagafy’ kind of place, But shady shisha places just don’t mesh well with what they’re going with 🙂

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
5 years ago

To rehash the arguments from The Pearl banning alcohol “why can’t people go out and enjoy a meal without needing to consume a substance that, when used as intended, is likely to cause serious harm”?

Plus let’s throw in a serve of “businesses should stop their complaining, this is for the public good and they need to respect the rules of Qatar”.

Ali
Ali
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Well you wouldn’t be saying this if your business would’ve shut down after 3 months of operation, like a lot of restaurants in the Pearl.

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
5 years ago
Reply to  Ali

It was my attempt at being sarcastic and commenting in a tongue and cheek manner.

Personally I think that business owners who invested millions into their ventures at The Pearl, or Katara, with the understanding that laws would not change in a sudden, dramatic and unexpected way, should be compensated in these circumstances.

They have invested money in good faith that their business plans, whether they hinge on the sale of alcohol or the provision of sheesha, will remain somewhat intact for the foreseeable future.

A lot people on forums like this had NO sympathy at all for what happened to the investors who lost millions of riyals at The Pearl. Because… alcohol. But now many of the will come out of the woodwork and say ‘how dare they take away our sheesha, it’s our hobby, we don’t have anything else to do’.

Well one of the main reasons there are so few other recreational options in Doha is because investors are scared to sink their hard earned money into a venture when rules and regulations can change overnight, rendering their investment worthless.

My confident prediction will be that this will be just like Souq Waqif – there will be a ban, it will be mildly enforced until someone powerful feels a bit inconvenienced and then the ban will be silently overturned and the 3 restaurants in question will discover a loophole.

bleh!!
bleh!!
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

well said!!

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

In 2008, hookah bars in France suffered due to the ban on indoor smoking, they were not compensated.

An exception can be made in the case of the Pearl since it was rather sudden, but still, laws and regulations change all the time, and businesses need to cope.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/24/world/europe/24iht-hookah.4.12317849.html?_r=2&

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
5 years ago
Reply to  Abdulrahman

I did say “sudden” for a reason. The law (Loi Evin) was tightened to include hookah bars and this was made public on 1 Feb 2007, with enforcement to commence from 2 Jan 2008.

aerofoiler
aerofoiler
5 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

Well Said!!

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
5 years ago

Good decision

Susan
Susan
5 years ago

Hmm…you know what “could be 10 times worse than smoking cigarettes”?

Driving like a tool and ignoring road rules.
Not bucking your children up in car seats or using seat belts in vehicles.
Overlooking unsafe conditions in large public places where people congregate (*cough*…Villagio fire…*cough*).

How about we prioritize things a bit?

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
5 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Let’s consult our glossary of business-speak

“Low-hanging fruit – Tasks that have the greatest positive effect for the least effort, used when promoting new projects to show the advantages.”

See also

“Pick the low-hanging fruit: Go for the easiest option”

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
5 years ago
Reply to  Susan

how about we make comments related to the article. there are articles on this website right now related to every point you made. if you have something to say about that why not comment there.

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
5 years ago

Ameen/Amen.

Ali
Ali
5 years ago

People just care about smoking and no one cares about the laborers!

Althani
Althani
5 years ago
Reply to  Ali

And no one cares when you go off topic

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
5 years ago
Reply to  Althani

i think he was being sarcastic bro

Althani
Althani
5 years ago

oh.. well then.. carry on..

Ali
Ali
5 years ago
Reply to  Althani

lol

Osama Alassiry AlMaadeed
Reply to  Susan

Lol… The usual comment. Totally unrelated…

While you’re at it, How about banning Qataris? Banning white landcruisers?
Not having multiple wives?
Not having wild beasts as pets?
What else?

desertCard
desertCard
5 years ago

OK

Shakshouk
Shakshouk
5 years ago

I like the idea of banning wild animals as pets, hence the name WILD animal. If you plan on keeping a cheetah as a pet, you should be expected to provide it with the proper requirements that it has in the wild; for example, dog breeds need varying amounts of exercise depending on their breed, and it’s unintelligent to keep a deadly animal in your land cruiser to show off how much gold you have

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
5 years ago
Reply to  Susan

Like Mohammed said, let’s try to stay on topic here.

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
5 years ago

” a stricter, anti-smoking law is expected to be passed “soon.”” And? Will it also be implemented soon? What does ‘soon’ mean? It can be two months or twenty years. I still witness people smoking in non-smoking public areas. And – nothing happens to them. When was the law passed? – Years ago. Passing laws seems to be a funny game for those who are bored.

Osama Alassiry AlMaadeed

“Soon”.

Althani
Althani
5 years ago

Yes they will ban shisha smoking in 20 years

Edward
Edward
5 years ago

Changes to the kafala system will be implemented soon too.

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
5 years ago

Didn’t they “pass” a law that forbids using the horn in front of a shop? I guess they did. And? They are still honking their horns, don’t they.

Curiosity Killed the Cat
Curiosity Killed the Cat
5 years ago

So the smoking law, it’s banned inside restaurants??? When you book a table at any hotel restaurant you are now often asked smoking or non smoking, so it should be completely no smoking?? Im a bit confused because go to the restaurants in W for example and there’s lots of smoking. Personally I think it’s great but if that’s the rules surprised it’s openly flaunted by big name hotels.

Cerebus
Cerebus
5 years ago

I long for the day that I can eat a meal at La Spiga and not have it seasoned with Virginia tobacco.

thedrizzle96
thedrizzle96
5 years ago

“However, enforcement of the law is lax, and many people can still regularly be seen smoking cigarettes and shisha inside malls, restaurants and cafes.” Not sure I’ve ever seen someone here light up a shisha inside a mall

Althani
Althani
5 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

I saw a cigarette or two but never shisha

Cerebus
Cerebus
5 years ago
Reply to  thedrizzle96

Its the lack of portability of the Shisha…..wait, you are on to something here……a portable shisha pipe. This could be the highlight at next years built in Qatar thing on the Corniche. I will get the driver and maid on this right now.

Ali
Ali
5 years ago

First of all Sukar Pasha doesn’t have custom made Shishas its just their scheme to rip people off by charging them 120 riyals for a shisha.
Shisha is the only past time in this country, it’s not like USA or Canada where you can do many other things that are free or don’t cost much yet are fun like public beaches for instance, who in the right mind would pay 100s of riyals to go to a beach?? or the unnecessary and over priced parking tickets at Aspire or City Center mall. In Dubai they have concerts every month, there are awesome events going on all over the city so even if the Shishas are banned there are like a million other things people can do and without selling their kidneys, but here there’s nothing except eating and smoking shisha here hence one of the highest obesity rates in the world. To be honest shisha cafes are the only places where a lot of people go to relax after working long hours and it’s something they look forward to.
Katara will not have visitors as much anymore unless they step up their game and come up with some fresh and creative ideas to deal with the ban or the restaurants will shut down (it’s a surprise they are still running considering how much they rip people off).

Althani
Althani
5 years ago
Reply to  Ali

You don’t really need to pay 100 riyals to go to a beach, Katara isn’t the only ‘beach’ in qatar,
And idk personally, I don’t think there’s that much past times to do in qatar, But it’s really
not just Shisha or eating, If that’s what it is to you then you need to find something healthier :p

Ali
Ali
5 years ago
Reply to  Althani

Like Driving in circles at pearl or Landmark and drinking Karak? 😛

The other beaches cost more than 100 riyals btw. Unless you go outside the city.

Althani
Althani
5 years ago
Reply to  Ali

That is the like the mooost basic things to do, Think outside the box 😛
There are soo many events that happens and you can take part of,
And yeah i mean going outside the city, It’s only like an hour to get to the beaches and an hour back, Sure it’s not the crazy fun city life with things happening 24/7 but you can make it fun if you try

Ali
Ali
5 years ago
Reply to  Althani

Well I was born here and in 31 years anyone can learn to adapt, so did I lol. I actually hate karak.

johnny wang
johnny wang
5 years ago

This shisha smoking is a serious health hazard not only to the people smoking them but to anybody and everybody else around this places and restaurants where this practice is going on. It is putting at serious risk the health and well being of the employees working at this places who have to put up with this smoke and stink every day at work. Compared to this practice of smoking shisha drinking is a lot safer

Walaa
Walaa
5 years ago
Reply to  johnny wang

Im sure these outlets wont lose in sales if none smokers stopped coming. However they will be affected once the ban is executed!

slblack
slblack
5 years ago

Shisha is so disgusting.

A_qtr
A_qtr
5 years ago

To be clear no one ordered Katara or placed a law on Katara to ban sheeshas, they voluntarily decided to stop serving it

The Reporter
The Reporter
5 years ago

This battle between improving the health of a nation and the vested counter-interests has been going on all over the world in the last 20 years. Regulation is proven to be the only option as voluntary codes achieve nothing, and inevitably regulation has resulted in businesses being adversely affected as the freedom to smoke has been restricted. However, the long term result has been that smoking in regulated countries has become less acceptable to society and is in decline, with the lobby against regulation similarly in decline. No pain no gain.

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
5 years ago

I think the girl in the first picture should really stop smoking shisha. Her skin is full of pimples. Latest research indicates that shisha smokers have unhealthy skin.

Edward
Edward
5 years ago

And so will be the death of Katara, or at least three of its popular outlets. Yet again, the government (which owns Katara) spits on private businesses by changing the rules mid-stream. Investors, e.g., at Khan Farouk, no doubt have shisha as a significant part of their offerings.

Perhaps they wouldn’t have opened their outlets if they knew that they’d have no shisha (see, e.g., The Pearl and alcohol) yet management lets them build fancy outlets on a certain business model and then unilaterally eviscerates that business model with virtually no warning.

Walaa
Walaa
5 years ago

I am a regular sheesha smoker, and I do end up in Katara for sheesha often.
This said, I support the ban. Their sheesha wasn’t good anyways. & Katara should not be a destination for sheesha smoking. Maybe these restaurants can focus more on the “culture” side of their business, rather than sheesha to promote their sales.

Peter Pickle
Peter Pickle
5 years ago

Most Excellent News !!!
Good riddance !!

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