Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Almost 45 per cent of shawarma stands in Dubai will be closed, with Dubai Municipality enforcing its new rules for the sale of the popular Arabic delicacy in the emirate from November 1.

The six-month deadline given to 572 small and medium food outlets selling shawarma across Dubai to implement the new rules related to space, equipment and storage requirements aimed at enhancing hygiene and safety of the product ended on October 31.

Of these, only 318 have either made or are in the process of making the changes to their existing conditions as per the new guidelines to ensure the health and safety of consumers, the civic body said on Monday.

Sultan Ali Al Taher, head of Food Inspection Section at the Food Safety Department, said 146 establishments (25.5 per cent) among the 572 have completed the implementation of the new requirements before the deadline, 172 establishments (30.07 per cent) have begun the amendments and are still in the process of completing these.

While 113 establishments (19.75 per cent) have completely stopped the activity of shawarma making, 141 of them (24.65 per cent) have not taken any action on the new requirements at all, he said in a media statement.

When contacted, he told Gulf News that the outlets that have not taken any action before the deadline will not be allowed to sell shawarma’s any longer.

“There is no grace period for them. They will have to stop the sale of shawarma’s immediately. They will be fined if they are found selling shawarma’s,” he said.

Such restaurants and cafeterias, however, will be allowed to continue with the sale of other food items they are allowed to sell.

“We will apply the local order for the year 2003 to protect the health and safety of the community in the emirate of Dubai and will only stop them from performing the activity of shawarma sale,” said Al Taher.

Better hygiene and safety

The implementation of the new rules will ensure better hygiene and food safety for consumers of shawarma, a popular item in Arabic cuisine.

The primary change that consumers can see will be the end of shawarma stands operating in an open area of an outlet. It is mandatory to move the shawarma stands indoors and ensure that they are not exposed to dust, dirt or any other external sources of pollution.

The regulations also make it mandatory to ensure proper refrigeration of raw materials, enough space for the storage of shawarma-making tools, separate facilities for defrosting frozen meat, thorough cleansing of vegetables and proper ways of waste disposal.