22 February, 2008

"Tobacco law may stub out shisha"

Dubai: The Ministry of Health plans to institute a complete ban on shisha and midwakh once the UAE introduces the federal anti-tobacco law, expected to come in by June.

Smoking shisha, or the water pipe, is a popular pastime among Middle Easterners and others who associate the activity with Middle Eastern culture. Midwakh, or the Arabic pipe, is popular among teenagers who have said it gives a more intense high.

The UAE has been working on a federal law regulating tobacco and its uses, content and sale, in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC).

Dr. Wedad Al Maidoor, head of the National Tobacco Control Committee, told Gulf News among other things, the law forbids tobacco use in enclosed areas and public places, without specifying the type of tobacco.

Rest of article to be found here

Perhaps our ME-based, outdoor tobacco fans may not celebrate this new announcement.

The public, three point "tuck, tuck, tuck" (sound emanating most likely from a 4wd) midwakh pipe-a-light may soon be outlawed, as might the hubblies & bubblies amongst us huffing & puffing sheesha-enthusiasts.

What's your favourite flavour?


DUBAI JAZZ said...

I am doing it behind closed doors I am fully aware of its health hazards, so why would they ban me from somking it?

I would then have to drive to Al Buraimi to get my fix.

Mine is double bahrini apple. What's yours imaginate?

i*maginate said...

Traditionally, dubai jazz, fave(s) would be "nakhla bahraini double apple" (is that what you meant?) - alternatively, the original al fakher grapes with a hint of mint.

rosh said...

*running around the apartment screamin* - naaaaooooooooooooo, not the shisha!

I love apple by the way :) Fakher grapes with mint eh....hmmmmm?

i*maginate said...

*huff, puff, rosh!* ;-)

yap, fakher grape with a HINT of mint - but wonder how long this luxury can last.

rosh said...

Gut tells me, shisha ban ain't go thru. There's much, simple aspects of culture at stake i.e. yes it's smoking, but it's not the "same" as lighting up a ciggie, is it? Plenty "non-smokers", do the shisha.

Anonymous said...

Whether they allow it or they decide to place a ban, I don't have any problem as long as I am not forced to inhale the smoke :-)

But I think banning it would be good for people, it indeed is an addiction. And believe me, I have seen real addicts, who if they skip it one day, they act as if they are on verge of death !

Proud Emirati said...

BAN SHISHA PLEASE. It is way worse than cigarettes and it has never been part of our Emirati culture and some claim.

Al Sinjab said...

Ban cigarettes and midwakh but save shisha! What will happen to the click, click, click of backgammon tiles?

I love going to the shisha parlours, it's an atmosphere like no other. Usually I only take tea, but on the rare occasions I do indulge I like grape and namani :)

the real nick said...

WTF! The day I can't get my favourite 'iskanderani' apple fix I'll leave Dubai I swear.
And why not ban shawarma too?! It's fatty cholesterol and makes your fingers greasy. Clearly a health hazard.

hemlock said...

if yer going to ban sheesha, you might as well put a ban on people breathing at all...
lighting up the sheesha is so not the same as lighting up a cig. there's no danger of second hand smoke, since non-smokers are mroe than welcome to not hang out at the sheesha joint.
this is radiculous!

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Proud Emarati,
I agree with you, however, I wish the ministry of health would be true to its word and thorough and consistent in its regulations by banning alcohol as well.

Proud Emirati said...

^^ I 2nd dat !!

Brn said...

In a bizarre coincidence, immediately before I read this, I saw this article about how some Americans are getting around smoking bans in Minnesota. I don't think that it would work here though.

samuraisam said...

proud emirati:
"It is way worse than cigarettes"

Studies on shisha a few and far between; it is not possible to make such a claim.

As for your statement on culture, just shut up and save yourself being made a complete fool of for the nth time.

The lady they quote in the article doesn't make sense; "Warning signs will not work with shisha and midwakh - how do you put a warning, on the pipe? - so a ban is better,"... My Al Fakher shisha tobacco warns of lung disease etc and also displays the nicotine and tar content.

Proud Emirati said...

Wow samuraisam what a civilized response. Geez, do I have to educate u all? Shisha has never been part of the UAE culture and if u think so then u certainly don't know what ur talking about. Emirati elders who use shisha are mostly from Iranian origins who brought this habit from there and it had nothing to do with the UAE or its culture.

Proud Emirati said...

I guess ur the one who should shut up and not make fool of urself?

Anonymous said...

Yet another bossy comment from Samuraisam. Don't you think you are getting out of control buddy?

Proud Emirati is right, as far as I can remember, the first outlet which served sheesha was a place by the name of Egypt Restaurant in the Naif area & it was usually Egyptians who engaged in this type of timepass. And if I am not wrong, for a very long time it was the only place in the city. Also there was no concept of flavoured stuff which really became a trend from the late nineties with the advent of specialized sheesha cafes.

Proud Emirati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Proud Emirati said...

Yea Shisha hasn't been popular until recently. It certainly an indicator that our Emirati youth don't know how to spend their time efficiently.

samuraisam said...

proud emirati: "Shisha has never been part of the UAE culture and if u think so then u certainly don't know what ur talking about. Emirati elders who use shisha are mostly from Iranian origins who brought this habit from there and it had nothing to do with the UAE or its culture."

You're damn straight! anyone participating in remotely un-local activities must be one of those bastard-face Irani samak's... eh?

I love how you chose to target shisha specifically and totally ignore midwakh (which is more Iranian than biryani).

rosh said...

Cultures always evolve. A culture today probably wasn't the same a 100 years ago.

OOK then - coming back to the ban. I hope it does not happen. Quite honestly, not sure if Shisha is similar to a ciggy. I do not smoke ciggies, however, relish a Shisha (and mint tea) on weekends with friends (expats/locals) who aren't ciggy smokers. It has been a part of UAE lifestyle of most expats/locals as far as I can remember.

Proud Emirati said...

samuraisam is 20 yo only? That make sense !!

samuraisam said...

proud emirati:

I suppose since you're trying to make comments about my age in your 'argument' that we've reached the point (yet again) where you've managed to make a fool of yourself?

Thanks for playing.

Proud Emirati said...

No I just got to a point where I realized that there is no point arguing with u !!

Keefieboy said...

Interesting: UAE culture is what, 35 years old? Sheesha is ceraintly a part of that, and one of the few things that make the place ib

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Guys! attention please! I have a special treat for you today!

Check out this photo of Istanbul 1860s.

Now it doesn't look like these sturdy Turks are too hurt by their shishas, does it? ;-)

photo is courtesty of http://www.mideastimage.com/

i*maginate said...

proud emirati, samuraisam is right: for some odd reason, you choose to neglect the effect of midwakh...which is not only much worse than ciggies, and is definitely a local thing!

& going with what some of the points samuraisam made - I say ban everything that is possibly addictive - that includes sugar, gahwa and all that yummy fast food.

Don't even bother arguing with me...ciao ;-)

samuraisam said...

proud emirati:
"No I just got to a point where I realized that there is no point arguing with u !!"

It is good that you realize that resistance is futile--All your base are belong to us.

Anonymous said...

This is such an amazing blog.

I like the topic that you guys are talking about.

Keep it up and goodluck!

Anonymous said...

i*maginate: I don't think the ban is because of health reasons. Since we are so good in blindly following West, I think the Municipalities here were "inspired" after they saw the public smoking bans in some Western countries.

A request to the Western governments: please ban alcohol too ;-)

MD said...

Yayyy for the ban. I hate it--be it cigarettes, midwakh or the shisha. And btw, shisha is more harmful than cigarettes because you puff more, almost 5 times more than a normal cigarette. I'm trying to find that research piece but I haven't located it yet. Of course, if you want to argue on the basis of frequency (cigs are smoked more than shisha) is a different issue altogether.

The smell of cigarettes and midwakh nauseates me. At least, it's more peaceful to walk through malls now.

Proud Emirati said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Proud Emirati said...

*maginate yes honey, the topic was about the shisha and not midwakh. I insisted on saying that shisha is not part of our culture as a reply to some who suggested that we cannot live without it because it is integrated in our culture, which is far from the truth.

I don't know if midwakh is originally a local thing. I don't recall remembering anyone using the midwakh when I was young and I guess it wasn't common in Dubai. but I have to say that it hasn't been uncommon in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi, mainly the beduins and the ones who try to copy them.

If it was up to me then shisha, midwakh and cigarettes should be banned.

Either ways, the ban I am referring to is banning hosting places and providing facilities for smoking cigarettes, shisha and midwakh and not banning individuals from doing it in their homes or when no one is around.

samuraisam said...

proud emirati:
There are several undated photographs of Sheikh Zayed smoking midwakh; it was rumoured that he had his own private dhokha 'farms' in Iran/Hatta.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think I've seen photos of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed also smoking midwakh.

Midwakh has been here a while; but probably only after Dubai established itself as a trading post--I imagine midwakh was introduced amongst the spices etc that were traded.

In any case, midwakh has created a rather interesting market for custom-made pipes and expensive tobacco etc which from what I've heard is only present in the UAE and nowhere else.

Midwakh is certainly an Iranian 'thing' though.

Proud Emirati said...

You are right samuraisam both sheikh Rashid and Sheikh Zayed used the midwakh.

Stained said...

I am with the ban of Shisha and Midwakh. But to me a more important concern is smoking in general among the teenagers of this country. The age limit should be made 21 in my opinion as 18 is still too young and harsh steps should be taken on anyone found selling them to teens and also those teens who buy....

M said...

"Studies on shisha a few and far between; it is not possible to make such a claim."

Your kidding right? The effects of sheesha have been studied for over 40+ years in some cases. Just go to Google Scholar and search for "sheesha", "shisha", "narghile" or "water pipe smoking"

-American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 72, Issue 7 722-724

"The COHb level in......Values among sheesha smokers ranged between 6.5 and 13.9 with a mean value of 8.8 +/- 1.83, significantly higher than those of cigarette smokers (P less than 0.001) for a given degree of exposure to tobacco smoke."

-American Journal of Epidemiology Vol. 148, No. 4: 375-383

"Cigarette and sheesha smoking significantly affect first-trimester markers of Down syndrome (fetal NT, free β-hCG and PAPP-A)."

-Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 43, Issue 5, May 2005, Pages 655-661.

"Results show that smokers are likely exposed to more “tar” and nicotine than previously thought, and that pyronsynthesized PAH are present in the “tar” despite the low temperatures characteristic of the tobacco in narghile smoking."

-Life Sciences Volume, 74, Issue 1, 21 November 2003, Pages 47-53

"A single smoking session increased oxidation injury (8-epi-PGF2α: P = 0.03; MDA: P = 0.001) and 11-DH-TXB2 (p = 0.00003) significantly, and repeated daily smoking induced a persistent long-lasting oxidation injury reflected by elevated prevalues but a smaller response to the actual water pipe smoke."

i*maginate said...

M, agreed there is information widely available on the Net pertaining to the ill-effects of sheesha - still, I don't support a ban in the UAE.

One such site that I found to be pretty informative is


Alternatively, one can just google "sheesha" to find loads of relevant sites, one of which is a UAE blog:


the real nick said...

The point is not whether smoking sheesha is harmful.
It is, very - and it's been proven.

The point is that smoking or not smoking is a free decision by a cogent human being.
As a smoker I support smoking bans in malls and any other confined public places where non smokers may be exposed to smoke against their will. Fine by me.
That doesn't mean that cigarettes should be 'banned'. Or smoking sheesha in a sheesha cafe'. Non smokers complaining about being exposed to smoke in a sheesha cafe, or bar, are like people who complain about getting wet when taking a shower.

What gets right up my nose are knee-jerk reactions by a nanny state curtailing personal freedoms and choices.

Dubai Entrepreneur said...

the real nick,

are you saying that people who go to bars are by definition smokers? because that simply is not true.

Aside from that, I am fully with you.

A smoker.

BuJ said...

well if this happens i will stay in the UK!

BuJ said...

btw, guys, why all the heavy-handed and rude responses especially between proud emirati and sam?

for the info.. midwakh is the most unhealthy, not shisha... but either way it's all smoking.

to my knowledge both the midwakh and biryani are indian... well the biryani is definitely indian and not iranian.

still, that has nothing to do with shisha, which is egyptian but invented in turkey and called nargeeleh or argeeleh in the levant.

Anonymous said...

I live in A.D...i just graduated haha anyway i smoke midwakh only...i used to smoke cigarettes and shisha but i quit it...midwakh is better..i juz take 2 puffs and im good for 2 to 3 hours and give great morning buzz wooo

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