LONDON: A photo of a London shisha lounge apparently serving socially distanced shisha to drivers has been shared online and praised as an innovative Arab way to counter coronavirus health measures, but an Arab News investigation reveals that all may not be as it seems.
Twitter users commenting on the image, which shows three cars lined up on the pavement with shisha pipes coming out of the windows, quickly identified the lounge in question: Shishawi, on Edgware Road in central London.
Arab News visited the site, where staff denied ever having served shisha to cars during the lockdown, and said they would not serve any shisha until reopening, “probably in July.”
(Video taken by Arab News of the area on Monday June 8 2020)
But the photo is not a fake — it was taken during Eid 2019. While Shishawi is not in breach of lockdown, the image still raises questions of legality.
Nadhim Rhadi, the owner of a separate London shisha lounge, said he was shocked by the image.
“It’s clearly illegal,” he told Arab News. “They don’t own the space in front of the lounge — that’s a pedestrian area.”
This is not the first time that shisha has taken center-stage in online misinformation. In 2013, the Pan Arabian Enquirer, a satirical news site, ran a story claiming that Emirates Airline would be introducing shisha rooms on certain long-haul flights.
The fake story gained over 500,000 hits on its website and was covered by various media outlets and blogs.