Small fine means some hotels already flouting law by selling sheesha outside of Ramadan
Sheesha could soon be served year-round at hotels in Bahrain in a bid to boost business, according to Gulf Daily News.
The popular flavoured tobacco pipe can only be legally sold during Ramadan but the Manama Municipal Council is considering regulating the sale of sheesha year-round by issuing hotels with licences for outlets including restaurants, bars and poolside.
"It is illogical to allow [hotels] to serve alcoholic beverages throughout the year and only allow them to serve sheesha, which is publicly more acceptable and in demand, just during Ramadan,” council vice-chairman Mohammed Mansoor was quoted as saying in Gulf Daily News.
"Sheesha should be offered throughout the year and should follow the same standards that are required of Ramadan tents.
"They can be served at a hotel's existing facilities like restaurants, bars or at poolsides - but in a manner that ensures non-smokers are separated from smokers.
"I am a non-smoker, but I understand regular complaints from hotels that sheesha attracts business as without it many don't tend to come for dining or consume their favourite beverage or drink."
Some hotels are known to already illegally serve sheesha outside of the Ramadan holy month, with little attention from authorities.
Some councillors have called for tougher action against hotels flouting the law but Mansoor said the proposal would overcome that problem.
"Hotels can easily pay BD20 or BD50 fine monthly, which wouldn't make a difference because they would make thousands of dinars from [sheesha sales],” he said.
"For that we are working to bring it under the law and instead of it being a fine, we could be taking it as a fee, just to ensure that requirements are fulfilled and that the service is being provided in a proper manner that doesn't risk people's lives or wellbeing."
Supreme Council for Tourism's five-star hotels executive committee chairman Abdulnabi Daylami said hotels had mixed opinions about the issue.
"There are hotels that consider it as a service they are obliged to provide, others think it's unnecessary and wouldn't help improve tourism or create a positive image with many complaints about smokers bothering others," Daylami told Gulf Daily News.
"Personally, I am against serving sheesha within facilities of hotels and can understand it being presented to customers in tents during Ramadan as a special case, but not throughout the year.
"There are four out of nine five-star hotels that are currently serving sheesha and with any new relaxation in rules they would be certainly benefiting."