DUBAI // Appliances with two-prong plugs will have restricted entry into the country from next year after safety officials warned they were a potential fire hazard when forced into three-pin sockets.
The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma) has told traders and manufacturers that all plugs for electrical appliances below 13 amps must be the standard three-pin models.
"Manufacturers and traders need to adopt the UAE/BS 1363-5 standard for all home and office appliances sold in the UAE," said Engineer Mohammad Saleh Badri, acting director general at Esma. "UAE sockets are made to accept plugs that meet very exact requirements."
Mr Badri said that if the plugs were not standard, customers were often forced to use a pointed object to open the ground pin shutter, which was unsafe.
"A number of two-pin plugs are still being sold in the UAE because many other countries are still using these kind of plugs," he said.
"Esma is currently devising a mechanism to gradually restrict the entry of plugs that are not complying with UAE/BS 1363-5 to the country. We will announce this in the beginning of next year."
The proposal was met with a mixed response from retailers.
Nadeem Khanzadah, deputy general manager for the retail division of Jumbo Electronics in the UAE, said it would not affect sales.
“Most electrical items do come with the two-pin plug, but they also have the option of the three-pins and adaptors,” he said. “If the Government wants to do this, then it will simply be a case of the manufacturers sending us the three-pin items.”
He said Jumbo would work with the authorities to run in-store safety campaigns to educate consumers.
Omar Kassim, founder of the online retailer Jado Pado, said the new rules could add costs. The website uses suppliers from all over the world, and therefore sells products with two- and three-pin plugs.
“If it comes into legislation that you are not allowed to sell anything other than a three-pin, there will be extra costs providing customers with a connection, which would be a burden for the business,” he said.
Plans are also in the pipeline for Esma to meet with monitoring authorities to develop a universal note or tag that will inform consumers whether the appliance is suitable for the UAE.
The UAE/BS 1363-5 model is based on a British standard. The system features shutters on the live and neutral socket holes, and a fuse in the plug. Shuttering in sockets means that nothing can be inserted into the neutral and live terminals until the ground pin has been inserted.