rain.png
Wednesday May 12th, 2021 7:07AM

Baby bottle craze sweeps Gulf Arab states, sparks backlash

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Cafes across several Gulf Arab states started selling coffee and other cold drinks in baby bottles this month, kicking off a new trend that has elicited excitement, confusion — and backlash.

The fad began at Einstein Cafe, a slick dessert chain with branches across the region, from Dubai to Kuwait to Bahrain. Instead of ordinary paper cups, the cafe, inspired by pictures of trendy-looking bottles shared on social media, decided to serve its thick milky drinks in plastic baby bottles.

Although the franchise was no newcomer to baby-themed products — a milkshake with cerelac, the rice cereal for infants, is a long-standing bestseller — the unprecedented fervor over the feeding bottles came as a bit of a shock. All the stress and anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic appears to have spurred some to find an outlet in the strange new craze.

“Everyone wanted to buy it, people called all day, telling us they’re coming with their friends, they’re coming with their father and mother,” Younes Molla, CEO of the Einstein franchise in the United Arab Emirates, told The Associated Press this week. “After so many months with the pandemic, with all the difficulties, people took photos, they had fun, they remembered their childhood.”

Lines clogged Einstein stores across the Gulf. People of all ages streamed onto sidewalks, waiting for their chance to suck coffee and juice from a plastic bottle. Some patrons even brought their own baby bottles to other cafes, pleading with bewildered baristas to fill them up.

Pictures of baby bottles filled with colorful kaleidoscopes of drinks drew thousands of likes on Instagram and ricocheted across the popular social media app TikTok. A cure for the world’s uncertainty? A response to some primal instinct? Either way, a trend was born.

Soon, however, online haters took note — the baby bottle drinkers and providers faced a barrage of nasty comments.

“People were so angry, they said horrible things, that we were an ‘aeb,’ to Islam and the Muslim culture,” said Molla, using the Arabic term for shame or dishonor.

Last week, the anger reached the highest levels of government. Dubai authorities cracked down. Inspection teams burst into cafes where the trend had taken off and handed out fines.

“Such indiscriminate use of baby bottles is not only against local culture and traditions,” read the government statement, “but the mishandling of the bottle during the filling could also contribute to the spread of COVID-19,” an apparent reference to those bringing their used bottles to other cafes.

Authorities, the statement added, had been “alerted to the negative practice and its risks by social media users.”

Backlash also came from Kuwait, where the government temporarily shut down Einstein Cafe, and from Bahrain, where the Ministry of Commerce sent police armed with live cameras into cafes and warned all dining establishments that serving drinks in feeding bottles “violates Bahraini customs and traditions.”

Oman urged citizens to report baby bottle sightings to the Consumer Protection Authority hotline. Saudi Twitter users and media personalities condemned the trend in the harshest terms, with popular news website Mujaz al-Akhbar lamenting that the kingdom's “daughters have suffered from a loss of modesty and religion.”

It’s not the first time that the guardians of local customs in Gulf Arab countries have focused their ire on social media phenomena. Vague laws across the region lend authorities broad power to stamp out public immorality and indecency. Emirati officers last spring, for instance, arrested a young expat for posting a video on TikTok in which he sneezed into a banknote, accusing him of “harming” the UAE’s reputation and its institutions.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Strange News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Nokia to cut up to 10,000 jobs to ramp up R&D in 5G race
Wireless network maker Nokia says it is planning to cut up to 10,000 jobs, or over 10% of its staff
6:49AM ( 1 minute ago )
Diverse jury so far for ex-cop's trial in Floyd's death
The jurors seated so far for the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death are a diverse group
6:42AM ( 7 minutes ago )
EXPLAINER: What is the impact of racially diverse juries?
Questions around race have been central to the murder case against the former Minneapolis police officer who leaned on George Floyd’s neck while the Black man pleaded for air
6:32AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Advocates seek Biden push on gun bills, but prospects iffy
The House recently passed legislation that would require background checks for gun purchases, a signature Democratic issue for decades
5:20AM ( 1 hour ago )
Sweden is latest country to stop using AstraZeneca vaccine
Sweden has become the latest country to suspend use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine over reports of dangerous blood clots in some recipients
4:53AM ( 1 hour ago )
N Korea warns US not to 'cause a stink' before Seoul meeting
In North Korea’s first comments directed at the Biden administration, Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister warned the United States to “refrain from causing a stink” if it wants to “sleep in peace” for the next four years
4:44AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
OxyContin maker Purdue proposes $10B plan to exit bankruptcy
The company that makes the prescription painkiller OxyContin would be transformed into a new entity that would funnel profits into combatting the U.S. opioid crisis under a $10 billion plan submitted to a federal bankruptcy judge late Monday
12:35AM ( 6 hours ago )
Once held in Iranian jail, ex-Marine fights espionage claims
A former U.S. Marine freed from Iranian custody five years ago is in court with the American government over whether he can collect a multimillion-dollar payment from a special fund for victims of international terrorism
12:13AM ( 6 hours ago )
Schools weighing whether to seat students closer together
U.S. guidelines that say students should be kept 6 feet apart in schools are receiving new scrutiny from federal health experts, state governments and education officials working to return as many children as possible to the classroom
12:06AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Diverse jury so far for ex-cop's trial in Floyd's death
The jurors seated so far for the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death are a diverse group
6:42AM ( 7 minutes ago )
EXPLAINER: What is the impact of racially diverse juries?
Questions around race have been central to the murder case against the former Minneapolis police officer who leaned on George Floyd’s neck while the Black man pleaded for air
6:32AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Winston re-joins Saints for 2021 after Brees retirement
The New Orleans Saints are bringing back quarterback Jameis Winston on a one-year contract
6:15AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Martin Luther King's traffic ticket changed history's course
On this day 60 years ago, a black man driving a white woman was pulled over in a traffic stop that would change the course of American history
6:14AM ( 36 minutes ago )
Children among victims of jihadi rebels in Mozambique
International aid groups say northern Mozambique’s humanitarian crisis is growing quickly, with more than 650,000 people displaced by the Islamic extremist insurgency in Cabo Delgado province
6:12AM ( 38 minutes ago )