UMM AL QAIWAIN // It is tough to buck the current trend of business doom and gloom, but Emad Eldin has managed it. His business, Manazil Group, rents out gas-powered generators. Business is booming, primarily because the generators offer his clients access to electricity and water - both of which are sometimes hard to come by in the northern Emirates.
"So many people are using it for wells, and also for new buildings," says Mr Eldin, from Sudan, who has operated from Umm al Qaiwain for three years. "We are selling, renting, repairing. We use Honda motors, Chinese motors." In a way, his business appears to run more like a consultancy. His 12 staff not only repair and clean the small, 5.5 kilowatt generators, they give informal courses on how to use them, and frequently make house calls to help those who need a little extra help.
"If a customer comes here to rent, we show him how to use it," says Mr Eldin as he displays half a dozen generators in front of his shop. "We can send employees to help them figure it. If he has already bought one, they can bring it here and we show them how to use it - whatever he wants." Typically, though, Mr Eldin rents them out from his grease-smudged garage along the busy E-11, which connects the small emirate with Ras al Khaimah and Ajman.
The daily rental of a unit, of which Mr Eldin's company has dozens in all shapes and sizes, typically costs about Dh50 (US$13), not including petrol. Part of Mr Eldin's business, he believes, is offering customers the tools to overcome an unusually dry climate and a particularly severe shortage of electricity in the area. Umm al Qaiwain, like the other three northern Emirates, has had difficulty connecting new buildings to the federal power grid.
"Now there are so many buildings without power, so they come here for power," he says. Many customers are seeking added power for their air conditioners, television sets and refrigerators. Others want to drill for water in far-flung sand dunes. A 5.5kw machine consumes about Dh85 worth of petrol in a day. But that is a price that Mr Eldin's clients, bereft of basic utilities, are increasingly willing to pay.
Across the street is evidence of the source of the company's success: two fancy high-rise apartment complexes rest idly, neither of which are connected to the federal power grid. "Business is a bit slower during Ramadan," Mr Eldin says. After Ramadan, however, he plans to open a branch in the new industrial zone. "Hamdulillah, business is good," he says. firstname.lastname@example.org