By Beatrice Thomas
The move is said to prevent late night gatherings of young people, illegal labourers working at night and the sale of unfit food
A decision to force restaurants in private housing areas in Kuwait to close by midnight has come under fire amid questions over the move ahead of Ramadan and the World Cup, it was reported.
Maj Gen Abdulfattah Al Ali, the Assistant Undersecretary for General Security at the Interior Ministry, is reported to be behind the order, which applies to fast food outlets and restaurants.
The Interior Ministry said that the decision was taken for security reasons, mainly to prevent late night gatherings of young people at restaurants, and also to stop illegal labourers working at night.
However, the Health Ministry claimed that restaurants used a lack of inspections during night hours to sell food “unsuitable for human consumption”.
The decision, which comes into effect within days, follows a cabinet decree five years ago which was put on hold after it sparked criticism from parliament members and business owners in Kuwait, Kuwait Times reported.
According to Kuwaiti laws, private housing areas are defined as districts where government houses are built.
However, there are no indications currently on whether a similar step will be taken in areas where apartment buildings are located – officially known as investment housing areas.
The newspaper reported that the timing of the decision, taken less than a month before Ramadan, could be problematic for restaurants that make money from food orders at the time of suhoor; a daily meal that Muslims eat between midnight and dawn during the holy month.
Coffee shops, a favourite destination over Ramadan, are also not mentioned in a decision circulated to Kuwait’s six governorates.
Coffee shops’ losses as a result of this decision could be more significant compared to restaurants, Kuwait Times noted, with World Cup football matches, some of which start late at night or in the early hours of the morning, are expected to be screened there.