Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Sweaty Sharjah

Candles in a power cutImage by jainaj via Flickr
According to the car (which knows these things), the temperature has been getting as high as 48C over the past couple of weeks. Gulf News tells us that the average noon temperature right now is 41C - and the humidity is knocking 70% at night. It's certainly hot, sticky and damp at the moment, as many of you will well know.

So the rolling power cuts that are currently sweeping across Sharjah are pretty unpopular. They come without warning, for anything up to eight hours at a time - GN reports some areas have been without power for 30 hour - and have affected many built-up housing areas in the emirate, as well as its industrial zone.

The government body responsible for the whole mess, the Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority (SEWA), has remained regally silent, refusing to answer journalist's questions. As I pointed out on the Dubai Today radio programme yesterday, this is hardly surprising. It's difficult to raise more than a simian grunting noise out of them as a customer, let alone a cogent response to media enquiries.

This, of course, has got the media's goat, particularly Gulf News which has reported the whole fiasco extensively today, giving a nice chunk of front page as well as all of page three to reporting on residents' misery - and there's plenty of it to report on, I can tell you. People are having to drive around in their cars at night to keep their kids cool, workers are being forced to sleep outside and a wide range of businesses are fighting to keep going in the face of the highly unpredictable outages.

It just goes to show, hell hath no fury like a journalist scorned. Except the force of that fury is tempered with a good deal of timorousness. Gulf News' swingeing attack on the ever-silent SEWA in its editorial reads more like a schoolgirl's essay than it does a righteous polemic. The last line of this towering tirade sums up the fury that GN brings to excoriate the opaque authors of Sharjah's power vacuum: "Children are among the first to be distressed thanks to the excessive heat."

Mind you, at least Gulf News is trying - it's not alone, either. 7Days and Khaleej Times both have extensive coverage (KT pointing out that a worker has died of heatstroke and 30 others have been admittted to hospital in the midst of the cuts).

Sharjah's very own Gulf Today, as pointless a newspaper as you're likely to find, totally ignores the entire issue in what can only be described as a craven display.  Mind you, it neatly demonstrates rule one of journalism in the UAE. If you're going to make a mess, do it next door or mummy will be upset.

Enhanced by Zemanta


KJ said...

I was going to write something but you've done a good job summing it all up.

When I was there last year I recall the power cuts and water cuts even. Mom was around and suddenly the water stops running from the afternoon till some odd hour in the morning. We started to eat out and shower in the gym.

It's absolutely mind boggling how a governmental institute can stay silent and expect to get away with it. What's worse is that they actually are charging extra now since the last power cuts as a measure to even out the costs.

Fahed Bizzari said...

Interestingly enough, I'm writing this comment from my car because there is no electricity in the office or any of the surrounding malls.

I actually love Sharjah, but she keeps on breaking my heart with all of these cuts and I might soon have to file for divorce - something I really don't want to do.

Luke said...

It actually makes me wonder how sensible it is to build these cities that cannot survive without a/c for most of the year. It's unnatural.

I am writing this from the foot of an Austrian mountain. It's 18°, sunny, light mist in the valley. Temperature set to rise to 25°. Should be just about right for a refreshing swim in the mountain lake.

Johann Grabner said...

about as absurd as those cities in Russia or Norway where you cannot survive without heating for most of the year.
Austria could offer to sell some mountains to the UAE though, it would help to lower their national debt:)

Luke said...

I totally agree. Let's all head to temperate climates suitable for the human body.

rosh said...

I've been reading about this. It's horrific without power or water in UAE summers. I believe the blackouts frequented mid 2000's, especially the Non-industrial areas in SHJ.

Spot on, on SEWA. It's like they are overwhelmed, lazy or don't care.

I'm writing from Atlanta, GA - it's 103 degrees, humid and blazing heatwave. Thankful for the power and the covered parking.

Anonymous said...

There was a comment from an unnamed SEWA official during the last round of cuts; namely that cuts were made in areas with "non-national" majority, in other only some residents of Sharjah deserve uninterrupted power, the ones that pay less for electricity.

Many sharjah residents were complaining that decoration lights in villas as well as the University city seemed to be supplied endlessly with power even when the "non-national" areas didnt have power for hours....

From The Dungeons

Book Marketing And McNabb's Theory Of Multitouch

(Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I clearly want to tell the world about A Decent Bomber . This is perfectly natural, it's my latest...