Middle East Daily | travel tips for traveling to middle east

Smoking Shisha A Middle Eastern Tradition

Smoking shisha has been a Middle Eastern tradition for centuries and it is a habit and ritual now finding its way into trendy Western nightclubs and cafes as well, but not without causing some controversy.

What is Shisha?

Shisha is the name of a special tobacco blend that is traditionally smoked using a hookah pipe. Most shisha is a combination of standard tobacco, dark molasses and the pulp of various fresh fruits (the fruits are alternated to vary the taste)

The hookah pipe, which can be as basic or as ornate as one likes in terms of aesthetics, consists of a bowl in which the shisha is burned, a pipe which transports the smoke through a water chamber, and a hose connected to a mouthpiece that the user smokes through.

The practice began in the Middle East in the 16th century. Tobacco was becoming the rage all over the world but in the Middle East there was concern (even then) that the European habit of smoking tobacco via a wooden pipe was unhealthy, and the taste of the tobacco too harsh and bitter. Thus shisha and the hookah pipe were born and both have been in use ever since. These days its often a very social practice, offered in nightclubs and other gatherings as a way to relax and chill, both in the Middle East and in the West.

Shisha Use and Health Concerns

Although the originators felt that they were taking a safer route to tobacco smoking pleasure and the opinion was held to be true for many years, now scientists and health experts are not so sure. Now many feel that shisha and hookah smoking is every bit as bad for your health as smoking cigarettes or a pipe.

As it is such a common practice in the Middle East, and even a part of many tourist attractions, persuading people to give up the practice is not easy. Some Middle eastern countries are attempting to tighten the sales of tobacco while others are allowing the use of electronic hookahs, devices that are very similar to the e-cigarettes that have become so popular in the West. As these pose a much lower risk to health many feel they are qa good compromise between improving health and maintaining a tradition that has been in place for hundreds of years.

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