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Sun 1 Jul 2007 12:00 AM

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Oman removes Ramadan ban

The Omani government has lifted its ban on alcohol consumption for the month of Ramadan.

The Omani government has lifted its ban on alcohol consumption for the month of Ramadan, set to commence in mid-September.

Tourists staying at selected hotels will be permitted to consume alcohol after sunset between 7pm and 2am.

Christopher Pike, general manager of the Radisson SAS Hotel, Muscat, said the move - which is happening for the first time - is expected to have a positive impact on business at hotels, as: "The vast proportion of leisure guests expects to be able to enjoy hard beverages during their vacations."

"I'm sure the Government's decision to ease previous restrictions has not been taken lightly, and I feel it is now in the hands of us hoteliers to act responsibly, and to prove that it was a wise decision and one which will only lead to positive results," commented Pike.

One such positive result could be Pike's prediction of additional beverage revenues, and an increase in room revenues, comprising both corporate and leisure guests.

Pike said the property's inclusion in the list of properties free to sell alcohol during the selected time period is, however, subject to further conditions. Service will be sanctioned at one restaurant, and will be limited to in-house guests, so the move is unlikely to require an increase in staffing from previous years.

Alain Briere, area director of marketing for Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, said a rise in international meetings taking place at the property is expected, which otherwise would have been held in another country.

"We are very pleased to see that the Omani authorities understand the needs for worldwide tourism development, and moreover we want to express that we fully respect the Holy month of Ramadan and shall make sure that serving alcohol is only obtainable in restricted areas and after sunset," he commented.

Briere added that the hotel, which opened in December last year plans to host Iftar, Suhour and Eid celebrations every night, and will also offer alcohol though room service . Other selected properties for the lifting of the ban include The Chedi Muscat and Crowne Plaza Hotel Muscat.

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