UAE Struggles to Get Electricity
to All Residents


It’s a matter of necessity, not ambiance. For much of the past month, residents of Sharjah, an increasingly teeming city hugging an interstate border with the wealthier city-state of Dubai, have suffered through power failures often lasting most of the day.

“It’s very, very difficult to sleep,” Kuttakunnil said, his facing beading with sweat as the air conditioner sat silent one steamy evening this week.

He said he’d been without power for more than 12 hours straight — an outage that, like others, has been hurting business and making life unbearable during one of the hottest times of the year.

More than mere inconvenience, the power cuts offer a troubling window into the fallout of breakneck development that has outpaced broader planning efforts in the UAE.

“The issue is just a lack of generation capacity” combined with low subsidised prices that encourage over-consumption, said Gulf energy expert Robert Bryniak, chief executive of Golden Sands Management Consulting in Abu Dhabi. “You’re getting excess use of electricity, which is resulting in more power plants being demanded,” he said. “It’s a vicious circle.”

The Emirates, more than any other Middle Eastern country, has worked hard to portray itself as a stable, affluent and progressive nation.

Vast amounts of oil money have packed its cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah with spectacular skyscrapers and mosques during a fierce multiyear building boom — one that was slowed, but not stopped, by the global economic downturn.


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