SHARJAH // The emirate's largest financial and administrative centre ground to a halt yesterday as power cuts brought blackouts to the city for the third time in as many months. The Buhairah Corniche escaped the cuts in May and June, but it was at the heart of yesterday's disruption as the city and its industrial areas were left without electricity for periods ranging from 9am until about 7pm.
The power cuts set off the alarm system at the Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) Corniche branch when the power went off at 11am. Royal Bank of Scotland had to close its doors more than an hour early. There was also disruption at Ajman Bank, First Gulf Bank and Abu Dhabi National Bank. The power cuts caused delays in financial transactions and bank clients had to wait in lengthy queues. "I was waiting for about one and a half hours," said Sulaiman Kamali, 40, an Iraqi who was trying to complete transactions at DIB. "When the power went off and a generator started working only two counters resumed work."
Hassan Ali, who works for a marketing company in the Babeel Tower on the Corniche, said repeated power failures were ruining the reputation of the emirate's business sector. "The power went off at around 11am and now it's around 4.30 and it's not back yet," he said. Waleed Rahman, 30, a Palestinian marketing executive in Sharjah, called for federal intervention. "Sharjah is home to an estimated 40 per cent of the UAE's manufacturing sector, employing 750,000 people," he said. "Its woes could have serious implications across the country."
Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority, which provides power in the emirate, said the cuts were not unusual. "They are just ordinary power cuts," a spokesman said without providing further information. Meanwhile, families have been left without air conditioning and light, in sweltering temperatures. Some took refuge in gardens and others have boarded their air conditioned cars for respite from the heat.
"I have a four-month-old daughter, so whenever the power goes off she is restless and my wife calls me from work to come and put them in the car," said Hussein al Tunaiji, an accountant with a Dubai shipping company. Imran Ali, 50, a mechanic, complained that the emirate's industrial areas suffer disproportionately. "It's not fair that we in the industrial area have to suffer so much because of this," he said. "We're suffering."