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The Day Abu Dhabi was 'switched off'

It was the worst blackout in 20 years...Gulf News June 29th 2001

Yesterday was the day the UAE's Capital ground to a halt. Lights in office blocks went out, traffic lights stopped blinking, computers crashed and the temperature indoors soared as air-conditioning units shutdown. "It was just as if somebody had switched off our connection with the world," said one victim; It was the worst blackout in Abu Dhabi for 20 years, and it took nearly 24 hours for the last homes to be reconnected to the power network. Uninterrupted power supplies had been taken for granted. But not anymore. Recalling the day the electricity dried up, Ahmed Ali, a Pakistani systems analyst, said: "It was the first time I realised how much our lives are dependent on electricity." Abu Muhammad Adil, an Eyptian government employee, said that it was not an easy day. "My family suffered a lot with the absence of electricity, gas and then water. "We could not cook food at home and  I was preparing to leave for Sharjah to avoid the electricity disruption. He said that nobody could be blamed for the breakdown. "I have been living in Abu Dhabi for the last 17 years and this was the first time the electricity had failed." Punam Balaram, an Indian office secretary, was more critical. "It's strange that there was no immediate alternate power supply for a city with so many inhabitants." She said that the power authority should learn a lesson and prepare a plan to deal with a similar situation in the future. Abbas Ali, a Pakistani accounts assistant, "I really appreciate those well disciplined and kind people who came forward and volunteered to direct traffic and helped people stuck in the lifts." Another resident who did not want to be named and who works for a company in the power industry, claimed the technical fault which led to the lengthy power cut was the result of the old machinery being used. Many people went to the beaches to get cool.

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