A hookah (hukkā or huqqah) also known as a waterpipe, is a single or multi-stemmed instrument for smoking flavored tobacco called Mu‘assel (also known as Shisha شیشه) in which the smoke is passed through a water basin (often glass based) before inhalation.
Shisha (شيشة), from the Persian word shīshe (شیشه), meaning glass, is the common term for the hookah in Egypt, Sudan and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf (including Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, UAE, and Saudi Arabia), and in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Somalia and Yemen.
Smoking the hookah has gained popularity outside of its native region, in India, Pakistan and the Middle East, and is gaining popularity in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and South Africa.
In the Arab world, people smoke it as part of their culture and traditions. Social smoking is done with a single or double hose hookah, and sometimes even triple or quadruple hose hookahs in the forms of parties or small get-togethers are used. When the smoker is finished, either the hose is placed back on the table signifying that it is available, or it is handed from one user to the next, folded back on itself so that the mouthpiece is not pointing at the recipient.
Most cafés in the Middle East offer shishas. Cafés are widespread and are amongst the chief social gathering places in the Arab world (akin to public houses in Britain). Some expatriate Britons arriving in the Middle East adopt shisha cafés to make up for the lack of pubs in the region, especially where prohibition is in place.
In the Philippines, the hookah, where it is predominantly called shisha, was particularly used within the minority Arab Filipino and Indian Filipino communities, although particularly among indigenous Muslim Filipinos.
Hookah was virtually unknown by Christian Filipinos before the latter 20th century, yet the popularity among contemporary younger Christians is now vastly growing. In Makati, various high-end bars and clubs offer hookahs to patrons. [*]