Shisha shops not included in under-18 tobacco ban

Updated 02 July 2012
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Shisha shops not included in under-18 tobacco ban

Shisha shops, cafes and restaurants are not included in a recent ban implemented by the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 18, a Ministry of Health official said.
Khaled Mirghalani, spokesman at the Ministry of Health, also told Arab News enforcing such a ban to eliminate smoking among teens could prove fruitless due to the difficulty of monitoring commercial outlets.
He said: "There is still no clear directive of how shops, especially small shops, are to be monitored to ensure they are all upholding the ban."
Mirghalani did not give further details why shisha was not included in the ban.
Sulaiman bin Hamad Al-Buthe, director general of the Environmental Health Secretariat, warned shop owners that those found selling tobacco to underage customers would be fined SR 500 for each violation.
Ali Al-Zubadi, an employee at a shop selling shisha products, told Arab News he had no idea about the ban, claiming he was never informed about such a restriction.
He added: "I was not aware that we are being monitored or banned from selling shisha products to minors as we have not received any new information indicating this from the ministries or municipality."
He said he frequently sells various shisha flavors and products to adults and teens who like to smoke with family and friends. Mohammed Eyosh, an employee at another shisha shop, said: “After hearing about the ban on selling tobacco products to adolescents, I initially thought it could mean trouble for my business especially as we were coming into the tourist season, when I usually see a sales increase of at least 20 to 25 percent.”
He added he was relieved when he did not receive a ministry circular on the ban and was delighted after speaking to other shop owners and hearing that shisha shops, cafes and restaurants were not included.
The question still remains why shisha is not included in the ban.
The reason could very well date back to a myth from 16th century India where the shisha pipe was invented by a doctor during the reign of Mogul Emperor Akbar. The physician claimed when tobacco smoke is first passed through a small receptacle of water it is rendered harmless.
However, a report issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests smoking shisha is more harmful than cigarettes.
The report explained because smoking shisha may last 60 to 80 minutes, the smoker may be subjecting himself to as much smoke as a person continuously inhaling from 100 cigarettes.
In addition, the WHO found that water does not adequately remove all toxic substances such as carbon monoxide and nicotine, putting smokers at risk from heart, brain and respiratory illnesses.


IMF raises Saudi growth forecast on higher oil prices

Updated 27 min 20 sec ago
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IMF raises Saudi growth forecast on higher oil prices

  • The IMF raises its growth forecast for Saudi Arabia for the third time since October 2017
  • The IMF raises the growth forecast from 1.7% to 1.9% this year

DUBAI: The International Monetary Fund on Monday raised its growth forecast for the world’s top crude exporter Saudi Arabia, citing higher oil prices.
In its World Economic Outlook update, the IMF said the Saudi economy — which contracted by 0.9 percent last year — would grow by 1.9 percent in 2018, up 0.2 percentage points from its April projections.
This is the third time since October that the organization has raised its growth forecasts for the Kingdom, reflecting soaring oil revenues which make up more than 70 percent of Saudi income.
However, it maintained its Saudi growth projections for 2019 at 1.9 percent on predictions that oil prices would moderate.
Oil prices have more than doubled since early 2016, when major producers struck a deal to cut output.
Last month, they agreed to boost output again to compensate for key supply disruptions in Venezuela and Libya, and in a bid to ease prices that have hit $80 a barrel.
The IMF also slightly increased its growth estimates for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a whole to 3.5 percent for this year and 3.9 percent for 2019.
Oil exporters in the region “have benefited from the improved outlook for oil prices, but the outlook for oil importing countries remains fragile,” the IMF said.
“Several economies still face large fiscal consolidation needs and the threat of intensifying geopolitical conflict continues to weigh on growth in the region.”
Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment estimated Saudi Arabia would boost its oil output to 10.3 million barrels per day for 2018, up from 9.9 million bpd for the first six months.
To achieve that, the Kingdom must pump around 10.6 million bpd until the end of 2018.
This will sharply cut Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit to around $30 billion (26 billion euros) from the projected $52 billion, Jadwa said in a report released last week.
Riyadh has posted a budget deficit for the past four consecutive years, borrowing from domestic and international markets and hiking fuel and power prices to finance the shortfall.
It also introduced a five percent value-added tax at the start of 2018.
Since 2014, Saudi budget deficits have totalled $260 billion.