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Abu Dhabi plans ban on smoking in malls

Filed on January 11, 2008

ABU DHABI — The Abu Dhabi Municipality is in the process of devising a plan to ban smoking in malls in the city. For this purpose, a meeting was held here recently, during which the officials sought suggestions from mall managers on how best to pursue this initiative.

Sources in the municipality disclosed that the smoking ban might be implemented as early as next month.

The opinions were pretty much split, with representatives of some malls considering that it is best to ban smoking completely in all the malls, right from the start. Some others believed that it would be easier to introduce the ban in phases, following Dubai’s example.

Navaneeth Sudhakaran, assistant manager at Al Wahda Mall, feels that the second strategy is better, since it had already proved successful in Dubai.

“This means to ban smoking in two stages, first on the mall’s premises, then in the restaurants and coffee shops,” he told Khaleej Times.

Sudhakaran also pointed out that in Al Wahda and Khalidiya malls, both part of the MK Group, smoking is only allowed in cafes. “Banning smoking in the mall was not easy at first, but when we approach people and tell them that this is a non-smoking mall, they generally understand,” he said.

In Al Wahda, there are ‘no smoking’ signs on all floors and in case someone is found smoking, the mall’s security guards make sure it is quickly extinguished.

“Of course, we might lose a few customers if we ban smoking in cafes as well, but if all malls do it, the customers will eventually come back and the situation will stabilise,” Sudhakaran said.

Maher Haj Eissa, senior customer service supervisor at Abu Dhabi Mall, had a similar opinion. “Smokers will find it difficult in the beginning, but eventually they will get used to the idea,” said Eissa.

The Abu Dhabi Mall will have a much harder task, though, since smoking is allowed on the premises.

According to Eissa, one solution being considered by the municipality is setting up designated ‘smoking rooms’, equipped with air-conditioning and smoke suction. “We are now waiting for the officials to come up with the final plan,” he added.

Silvia Radan

I'm a senior journalist with 22 years experience in all forms of mass media. Originally from Romania, I lived and work in Bosnia, Uzbekistan, England and, for the past 10 years, in UAE. I specialize in art, culture, traditions, heritage, but also environment and the hospitality industry. I'm passionate about jazz and world music, cinema, mythology and offroading - I'm a marshal with one of UAE's offroading clubs!

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