Ramadan tents are a welcome change to Iftar at home. The man playing oud, the smell of incense, the buffets with endless choices (totally what you want when you haven't eaten all day), and the shisha and coffee at the end of your meal…it all just hits the spot.
This year, however, you might want to forget the shisha part if you live in the United Arab Emirates. Federal Law No.15 of 2009 on Tobacco Control and its executive regulations in the UAE states that smoking is only permitted following certain directives, like good ventilation. And it makes sense.
Lots of tents are so smoky, you come home with a scratchy throat and a headache. Secondhand smoke in enclosed spaces sucks - and I say this as a shisha smoker. For kids that come to enjoy an Iftar in a tent with their parents, or pregnant ladies, or anyone, for that matter, the thick air of smoke gets to you after a while.
Here's how the ban will work. First, no shisha will be allowed in tents unless they apply for permits from the Dubai Municipality Building Permit Department, reports Scoop Empire. If they get the permits they must abide by the rules, which include one square meter between every smoking customer. Also, a certain ratio of windows to chairs and a proper ventilation system. If tents meet these requirements they may be able to serve shisha – but not before a certain time.
That's the second stipulation. All shisha in tents will not be served before 9 p.m. Hotels with tents need to go a step further by making sure that the tents are separate from the hotel's entrance, bathrooms are in non-smoker's area, and all fabric inside the tent is fire-resistant.
It's not enough to deter everyone though; according to Dr. Nassim Rafi, Acting Director of Public Health and Safety Department at Dubai Municipality, applicants are being vetted for tent permits, with two already getting approval.
Tents that don't get permits might suffer. Why? Because, the truth is, people don't go to tents just to eat a great meal. A lot prefer to stay home even if it means cooking and cleaning, simply because they like to eat in their sweats or pajamas and relax on the couch afterwards to watch new episodes of a Ramadan series.
What makes leaving the house worth it is really only one thing: shisha.