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Friday, February 26, 2021

Shisha: A sweet taboo for women, or accepted practice?

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UAE-based newspaper The National is carrying a report about the increased restrictions being placed on smoking shisha in public there. First it was banned at “family areas” like beaches and parks, now cafes that allow hookah use are being ordered to move outside of cities – toward more industrial areas – or be shut down.

The underpinning assumption is that the move is meant to discourage women from smoking shisha in public.  

Qatar, which has been increasingly cracking down on the smoking of cigarettes in public places – especially malls – has somewhat laxer restrictions on shisha, which is available at a number of restaurants and cafes.

At Souq Waqif, hookah use is rather prolific, and it’s extremely common for women to be engaging in the act there, alongside men. That said, almost all are expat women.

Does it then, remain taboo for women to smoke shisha in public? Or are they just smart enough to know that  it’s bound to have some detrimental impact on their health?

Credit: Photo of a row of hookah pipes at Souq Waqif, by Omar Chatriwala (that’s me)

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