Bahrain vows to maintain alcohol ban in three-star hotels

Culture Ministry takes decision after hotel owners pleaded for a delay on imposing the ban

A ban on alcohol in three-star hotels will stay in place, according to the Culture Ministry, who have pledged to help hotel owners who want to upgrade their facilities to four stars.

Speaking to Gulf Daily News following discussions with hotel representatives, a Culture Ministry spokesman said: "It (the ban) is permanent. We are in discussions with the three-star hotels and we will continue the process of improving them to get a four-star rating.

“We will help them with our specialists and our consultants - our doors are always open to all.”

Three-star hotel owners claim they could be forced to close as a result of an alcohol ban, which was imposed on them last week.

The ministry has also prohibited presenting Arabian and foreign art shows and recruiting artists belonging to both the genders at three-star hotels.

Hotel’s violating these new rules will be subject to legal procedures, including the withdrawal or suspension of their tourism license.

A similar ban on alcohol in one- and two-star hotels in Bahrain was introduced in 2009.

Hotel owners have complained about the short notice given, according to Caravan Group of Hotels chairman Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa.

“The decision is not investor-friendly,” he told Gulf Daily News. “If the ministry wanted to do this that is fine, but not so abruptly. We need time to wind down operations and divest or slowly invest to reach the standard.

”We (hoteliers) suggested that the decision should be implemented in three years to allow us to plan and react accordingly.

“Yet they (the ministry) went to an extreme stand, which was very abrupt even for the ministry.”

The ban has been enforced, according to Gulf Daily News, amid allegations of "immoral activities" in some hotels, which is thought to be a reference to prostitution, substandard facilities and owners ignoring licensing regulations by operating properties as entertainment venues rather than hotels.

Hotels in the two and one-star category are already banned from serving alcohol or staging live entertainment.

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Posted by: Chris J

WOW. Now people will have to go to four star and five star hotels for immoral activities! Do the government really think that these activities really only occur in one, two and three star premises? They should get out of their ivory towers and see what the real people see.

Posted by: Doug

No, it's social engineering. Those staying in 1-3 star hotels are likely to be from demographics that are over-represented in the GCC with origins in less economically developed countries. Those in 4 and 5 star hotels are likely to be from economically more developed countries.

In other words, it's an easy way for them to stop lower-income Indians from drinking without upsetting the Russians, Westerners and, erm, 'other' groups who have a large amount of disposable cash and fewer reasons and opportunities to mobilise.

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