Arabian Business Weekly Update June 19, 2005

The city’s massive power cut has brought home the need for investment. YEARS of hard work can easily be undone in a single moment. And last week, on June 9 at 9.47am, that moment may have arrived in Dubai. The city's sudden power cut brought chaos to millions, costing business millions more. Such power cuts are not unnatural: what is, is the city's muted reaction, akin to a denial that there was any kind of crisis. As we report this week, Dubai's capacity to generate power needs urgent reviewing, urgent new investment and urgent upgrading. The huge scale of growth across the city has resulted in the need for power rising at 10% a year: that's three times more than the global average and faster than anywhere else on earth. The UAE's installed power generation capacity has been growing at 24% a year over the past 30 years and will reach 17,000 megawatts within the next five years. But this may not be enough.

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By  Anil Bhoyrul Published  June 19, 2005

Dubai has no answers in the dark|~||~||~|The city’s massive power cut has brought home the need for investment. YEARS of hard work can easily be undone in a single moment. And last week, on June 9 at 9.47am, that moment may have arrived in Dubai. The city's sudden power cut brought chaos to millions, costing business millions more. Such power cuts are not unnatural: what is, is the city's muted reaction, akin to a denial that there was any kind of crisis. As we report this week, Dubai's capacity to generate power needs urgent reviewing, urgent new investment and urgent upgrading. The huge scale of growth across the city has resulted in the need for power rising at 10% a year: that's three times more than the global average and faster than anywhere else on earth. The UAE's installed power generation capacity has been growing at 24% a year over the past 30 years and will reach 17,000 megawatts within the next five years. But this may not be enough. The latest industry estimates suggest the Middle East as a whole requires more than US$1 trillion of investment in utilities over the next 20 years. The UAE's own power sector will require more than US$10 million over the next seven years, with consumption rising by as much as 12% a year. And the latest report from the International Energy Agency makes even grimmer reading: it predicts that widespread power cuts, some even deliberate, will be felt in fast-growing economies. To be blunt, demand is far outweighing supply. So what needs to be done? Earlier this year, the UAE Federal Electricity and Water Authority's power programme received US$457 million, the highest of any department in the country's latest budget. That figure needs to be trebled, and now. ||**||US leads the legal road|~||~||~|The American legal system has quite rightly taken a battering in legal months. Take the fiasco of Guantanamo Bay, and detentions without trial. Take the ludicrous court martials of American soldiers, many of them given paltry sentences in relation to their crimes. But at last, the outcome of the Michael Jackson trial has given the legal world something to be proud of. My entirely personal opinion is that the case against Jackson was absurd: there was no way that the testimony of a family which has admitted lying under oath previously, and has a history of attempting to extract money from celebrities, could be relied upon. Had Jackson been facing a court martial, he would probably now be starting a jail term. What saved him was the American jury system. It has shown again that trial by jury works, and works very well. Many other countries should take note. ||**||Saudi women left behind|~||~||~|In this column last week, my colleague Richard Agnew rightly (and bravely) criticised Saudi Arabia over the latest US report on human trafficking. As he explained, the Saudi reaction, that it disagreed with most of the report — without any explanation as to why — was hugely disappointing. Denial is no longer an option. I am sorry to say that the Saudis are at it again. Women in the Kingdom have been hopeful that the decades-long ban on women drivers would soon be lifted, after it was raised by a member of the Shura council. But last week, Saudi interior minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul-Aziz responded by saying: “We consider the question to be secondary, not a priority." Maybe so to him, but not to millions of Saudi women who live as second-class citizens. ||**||

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