A silly argument breaks out in the street? Ramadan. A customs control officer falls asleep while processing passports at the airport? Ramadan. A random stranger passes out bottles of juice during Iftar? All of these events are explained by one word in the Middle East and North Africa: Ramadan – the holy month during which Muslims brave hunger and dehydration in order to purify their souls.
But in Saudi Arabia, where temperatures are among the highest in the region, the onset of Ramadan has resulted in a series of power outages that have sent hot and hungry protestors to the streets.
8% Energy Spike in Saudi Arabia
It’s hard to imagine that the oil-producing giant Saudi Arabia could ever have power outages, but just over one week into the holy month of Ramadan, electricity consumption in some areas of the Kingdom has increased by as much as 8%, according to the Saudi edition of al-Hayat.
As many people stay home to nurse their hungry bellies and hot tempers during this trying time, air-conditioners are cranking even more than usual. Also, women or servants sometimes spend hours cooking elaborate Iftar meals – further increasing energy consumption.
This spike has put undue pressure on the national grid.
Saudi Electricity Company head Abdul Moueen bin Hassan al-Sheikh says that his team is working around the clock to address the power outages that have occurred in parts of Jeddah, but he says that protestors are impeding progress.
Saudi Protestors Dispersed by Police
“Protesters made it difficult for technicians to fix the failure in the Om al-Selm in southern Jeddah,” he said.
Police were brought in to disperse the protestors so that the utility company could repair the affected station.
Power outages start as early as dawn, when Saudis prepare to eat their pre-fast meal – the Sohour. As a result, residents have been eating by candlelight (sounds quite nice actually) and the dawn call to prayer has been performed without the microphone (even better!)
Al-Sheikh added that construction works in the area have also disrupted electrical infrastructure and that the utility is working with the Jeddah City Council to reduce such incidents.
:: Al Arabiya
Image credit: Old gas station in Arabian desert, Shutterstock