Saudi Arabia: Banned in Saudi but Growing in Popularity in America


It’s kind of ironic that shisha, which has been a tradition in the Middle East for decades, is now publicly banned in Saudi Arabia but growing in popularlity in the United States.

Shisha is also known as ‘Hubbly Bubbly’ or a hookah.  In essence, all three refer to smoking scented tobacco which is passed through a water basin (hookah) before the recipient inhales.

When I lived in Riyadh ‘Hookah’ or ‘Shisha’ clubs were popular places where men, young and old, would meet and socialize.  In the more forward leaning city of Jeddah, shisha would be available at local malls for both sexes to enjoy.

However, according to Gulf News, the government recently shut down 242 facilities in just Jeddah for continuing to serve shisha.

The reason for the ban on shisha in Saudi Arabia is to encourage individuals from smoking in public in Saudi Arabia.  Saudis and expatriates both may continue to smoke shisha in the privacy of their homes.

Ironically while smoking cigarettes in public places is now banned in most of the United States, shisha bars seem to be the exception.  Not only are they the exception but smoking shisha continues to increase in its popularity.

What do you think?  Should smoking shisha continue to be banned in Saudi Arabia?


17 Responses

  1. Amazingly, I have found this is quite popular here in the US even in Tennessee, the so called bible belt. I think it shows that ‘vice’ is everywhere and religions of all kinds must fight it.

  2. Dear Bedu
    Yes it must be banned in Saudi.Its not only HOOKA but drugs are smoked through there. It is a killer.
    I would like to say that it must be banned all over the world if we want to save our next generation.

  3. Since Shisha is not a tobacco product but made of dried fruits and has always been a tradition, it should be reinstated.

  4. Penny, the Mayo Clinic disagrees:

  5. I honestly don’t think smoking tobacco through a hookah pipe is as bad for a person as cigarette smoking because it doesn’t have near the same amount of additives (generally speaking). I would much rather have people smoking outside than inside their homes because when people smoke inside their homes, they are putting the rest of the household at risk due to second-hand smoke. It would be interesting to see what in-depth non-biased studies have been conducted on the health effects of hookah-smoking versus cigarette smoking.

    Since nicotine is highly addictive (physiologically speaking), I don’t think that all these smoking bans are going to be as effective at stopping smoking. More likely, people will just smoke inside their homes, putting more people at risk of second-hand smoke. Maybe people who just smoke occasionally (once a week) will quit, but what about the ones who would normally smoke 2-3 times a day?

  6. Smoking kills . Irrespective of what you are inhaling. Never understood why one would want to inhale carcinogens 🙂 irrespective of the amount present. Especially in today’s time with all th data and research present.

    I doubt banning it will be much use. Banning something doesn’t fix idiocy!!

  7. @Penny, shisha isn’t a non-tobacco product at all. It’s tobacco that is flavored with fruits, molasses, etc.

    @StrangeOne, it most certainly is not as “powerful” as other types of tobacco smoking is. I’ve known many cigarette smokers (myself included) that would light a cigarette and smoke it while smoking the shisha. The second hand smoke isn’t as bad either, as THIS smoker HATES second hand smoke, even his own. Still, I agree that it should be smoked outside, that’s where I smoke it.
    But, that is from a fire hazard perspective. Hot coals should not be used and handled indoors.
    Saudi produced a study claiming that shisha smoke is equal to 50 cigarettes. That is patent nonsense, as the dosage of nicotine would be past the LD50 mark! My brand cigarette has a nicotine “dosage” 1.7 mg. LD50 in humans for nicotine is 0.5-1.0 mg/kg. Figure between 40-60 mg, depending on body weight. For a “lighter” cigarette of 1.0mg nicotine, the study would have the shisha smoke at the middle of the LD50 range. For mine, past the LD50 point.

    @Radha, yes, I smoke. Yes, I know the risks. But, I started decades ago and really don’t wish to go through the stress of quitting now. Indeed, as a heat stroke caused some QT stretching and I throw PVC’s to the point of being at ventricular tachycardia for minutes at a time until I get my nicotine, I’d prefer to quit under the care of a cardiologist.
    Or even better, have one locate the irritable locus and have it ablated, THEN quit.
    But, I always said, when I believe it’s beginning to steal my breath, it is time to put them aside. During seasonable allergy season, I’m feeling more constriction, so, it’s time to put them aside.
    But, at least my lung fields are clear, chest radiographs are good and I only have 10% blockage in one coronary artery (see the long QT bit, I noticed it on my pre-admission testing ECG when I went for cataract surgery and showed it to my primary, who sent me to a cardiologist).
    Especially since I rather treasure the company of my grandchildren!
    And hate to have banned them from the house for a bit, but a 3 month old really doesn’t need to be near me while I have shingles. :/

  8. I believe there is still smoking in outdoor cafes. And it is not just shisha that is banned. You can no longer smoke inside malls or restaurants. I am absolutely LOVING it. I went out to breakfast the other morning and no one was puffing away and the air was clear.

    Shisha has tobacco- and is often the youth gateway into cigarette smoking because of the myth it isn’t as bad- and before you know it a new crop of addicts.

  9. Smoking kills.
    I cannot understand why people still smoke? My parents were from the time when they paid doctors to tell people how smoking is good for them. (they stopped wile we were young) but anybody from my generation or younger who smokes is an idiot.

  10. I’ve noticed a hookah bar or two in my county the last couple of years.

    A friend’s father died when she was 12 and her sister 10. He smoked for years, and even while dying from lung cancer, he was not able or willing to give up the cigarettes.

    On the other hand, Andrew had an aunt who died at 90, and she’d smoked since she was 13.

    I was surprised how many people in Germany and Austria smoked. I live in a tobacco-producing state, and we have a good number of smokers, but Germany and Austria were pretty bad.

    A friend in Germany said a coworker went to the US for the first time for a work meeting. It was in California. German man came back saying no one smokes, he was trying to light up in a parking lot when someone threatened to call the police on him!

  11. @wzrd1 – i would ask you to see your primary care and with the help of a cardioligist start a smoking ceassation program 🙂

    You do recognize that your quality of life is getting affected nad that is the first step. Quitting is not that hard. ( yes this from someone who has never smoked 🙂 ) but i see day in and day out the effects of smoking and hence the lecture. We as a species are great at destroying our bodies.

    take care and rest and best wishes for fun times with your grandkids..

  12. They are around here but mostly in ME population areas. I have been in one and the smoke stepping inside is unbearable. Having said that, if people are smoking tobacco at least they are not also getting the nasty chemicals that are in cigarette papers.

  13. I think it has only been banned indoors. If a restaurant has outdoor seating, I’m pretty sure they can serve shisha…

  14. I stopped using shisha when I started thinking about the condition of the pipes used (by many people), who knows what kind of diseases are lurking in them. Also you can not stop smoking for at least an hour as it is a social event and so you smoke to the point of feeling nauseated and dizzy I do not know how many brain cells I lost from oxygen deficiency to my brain during those shisha sessions

  15. knowing more about shisha and the pipes. Don’t be naive about smoke. There have been medical studies that show secondary smoke affects family members and workers.

    Make shisha socially unacceptable…like smoking lots in North America. Go outside, 6 metres away from public buildings. I’m sorry we had problems in OUTDOOR cafes in some areas of Denmark, Germany with smokers. Hard to enjoy a lovely meal or dessert. This was only 2 yrs. ago.

  16. The one and only time I went into a shisha club…I could not even take a breath from the very heavy air filled with smoke. I barely lasted 10 min in there and had to flee. No idea how people can just sit there…breathing that in much less smoking it.

  17. […] two weeks ago I wrote how smoking shisha (aka as hubbly bubbly or hookah) had been banned from public places in Saudi […]

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