A year after it said it would begin naming and shaming restaurants that have been closed for health violations in Qatar, the Minister of Economy and Trade’s Consumer Protection Department (CPD) has published its first advertisement identifying a violator, the Peninsula reports.
The advert, which appeared yesterday in local Arabic daily Al Watan, announced that the Shiraz Garden Restaurant in New Salata area had been closed down for two weeks from Oct. 2nd as it was found selling whitefish fillets labelled as hammour, the paper states.
The identification of an outlet in this manner is extremely unusual in Qatar, where local news media and government agencies avoid such a practice and instead regularly release statistics on the number of outlets closed without identifying them.
In April last year, the CPD announced that any outlet that had received a violation would have to pay for and publish the news in local Arabic language newspapers.
The change in policy came about after the Central Municipal Council called for retailers who cheated consumers to be warned, fined and then publicly denounced if they didn’t improve.
Thus far, despite the CPD’s announcement, the practice has been extremely selective, with only a select few fish restaurants being named so far, and these only online.
Earlier this month, the Doha Municipality announced that it had closed 50 outlets in the Industrial Area, without naming any of them.
These closures came amid a drive to re-enforce Qatar’s Consumer Law, which has seen increased inspections since the beginning of the summer.
The Industrial Area was a focus for inspectors as it has many small shops and eateries, and is also where a lot of foodstuffs due for distribution are stored, Mohammed Al Sayed, Head of Health Control at Doha Municipality, told the Peninsula.
He added that most outlets were given a chance to rectify their errors before a decision to close them was taken, and that the municipality offered advice and help to outlets attempting to improve conditions.
The inspection drive was not limited to small outlets, however.
Two well-known restaurants – Thai Chi at Villaggio Mall and IDAM, the Alain Ducasse restaurant at the Museum of Islamic Art – have both been closed by the municipality for a period this month.
When reached by telephone today, an IDAM staff member confirmed that the restaurant had reopened this week “after a technical problem in the kitchen, which has been rectified,” adding that the restaurant was now fully booked.
The Qatar Museums Authority has not yet responded to our request for comment about the closure.
Thai Chi could not be reached for immediate comment by phone.