Members Club Exclusive Early Magazine VAPOUROUND-MAGAZINE-ISSUE-22-WEB-compressed - Page 102

FEATURE BREAKTHROUGH IN THE MIDDLE EAST? The UAE changes its tune on e-cigarettes BY PHOEBE FULLER The United Arab Emirates, long known as one of many Middle Eastern nations strict on vaping, has given the go-ahead to new legislation which will allow the legal sale of e-cigarettes from mid- April. This could pave the way for a boom in the e-cigarette industry in the seven member states which includes Abu Dhabi and Dubai. For resident vapers – and those further afield – this is cause to rejoice, showing that even the most stringent nations are open to changing their mind. Currently, the only countries within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to allow vaping free of any restrictions are Bahrain and Kuwait. For Ahmed Fathalla, Managing Director of the Middle East Vape Show (MEVS) in Bahrain, this is not the first governmental shift he’s noticed recently. He told Vapouround: “We noticed that since the show things are changing in the market, suddenly the [Middle Eastern] governments are looking into legalising this industry, that was not like that before the show.” And if other countries follow suit, Ahmed sees fantastic opportunities for MEVS beyond Bahrain. “We’ve been encouraged to continue looking into expanding the show, looking into our markets and to keep inspiring the region. Not all the countries have allowed it yet but still the market that they have is big, so once we get closer to them – closer and close to their countries – it will open, this is what encouraged us to continue.” In the wider region vaping rules are similar to those in the UAE, with many nations such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia allowing the 102 | VM22 practice while restricting the importation and sale of e-cigarette devices and e-liquids. Egypt and Saudi Arabia are currently in the process of following the UAE’s lead in fully legalising vaping, but no fixed date for new legislation has been set. The UAE has previously never allowed the sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids, though purchasing these items (and vaping, in itself) is not illegal, with many Emiratis widely purchasing vaping gear online and openly vaping. But for non-residents visiting popular cities such as Dubai, the laws have caused a huge amount of confusion surrounding the legality of bringing e-cigarette devices into the country – given that the importation of these items is also strictly prohibited. And with a multitude of reports of e-cigarettes and associated items being confiscated at borders, many tourists and expatriates remain unsure about whether they’re breaking the law when they choose to vape. This new legislation brings with it a huge sigh of relief from the vaping community, putting an end to the uncertainty once and for all. The rules, confirmed by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA), will allow the legal sale of e-cigarettes, e-pipes, e-shishas and e-liquids provided manufacturers ensure all products meet strict safety standards and carry similar health warnings to those on tobacco products. “The UAE regulations are different from Kuwait and Bahrain, they are working close to the UK standards so that’s why they will have specifications like 10ml, they’ll have a maximum nicotine level, they’ll have caution stickers, they are following the UK