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Few takers for ‘Earth Hour’ in Saudi Arabia

At 8.30pm last night, everyone was supposed to turn off the lights for 'Earth Hour'. In KSA, very few people bothered.

March 28, 2010 2:18 by

In Saudi Arabia, there were very few takers for ‘Earth Hour 2010′, a call for action on climate change.

As the clock ticked 8.30pm in Dammam and Alkhobar, almost nothing happened. No lights were switched off in the main thoroughfares or residential districts of the two Eastern Province cities.

Saudis and expatriates said the campaign had had no impact in their districts. “I went upstairs in my villa in Alkhobar’s Bandariya district after 8.30pm Saturday night to find out how the city looked in the dark,” said Saleh Al-Shehry. “It was business as usual. The lights were out in only some villas. That was it,” he told Arab News. “Maybe, people saw it as a gimmick,” said businessman Muhammad Jaffer. “Nobody took it seriously.”

In Riyadh, too, the campaign fizzled out. While some areas did observe Earth Hour by dutifully shutting off power, a majority of Saudis and expatriates thought nothing about it.

“All major business centers and shopping malls remained open and were in fact doing brisk business during the hour they were supposed to shutting off power,” said Nilofar Osman, a housewife.

In Jeddah, Kababish restaurant area, frequented by expatriates, remained open and all the Pakistani restaurants in the area knew nothing about the Earth Hour. In many restaurants people remained glued to television channels from home watching popular Pakistani political talk shows.

“What Earth Hour?” asked a rather bemused Nayeemullah Hamid, a teacher who resides in the same district. “I don’t know about other areas but here in Aziziah, there is no power outage!”

Landmarks such as Sydney’s Opera House, Beijing’s Forbidden City and Taiwan’s Taipei 101 office tower, however, temporarily went dark on Saturday as nations dimmed the lights for Earth Hour.

The remote Chatham Islands was the first of more than 100 nations and territories to turn off the power at 8.30pm local time, in a rolling event around the globe that ended just across the International Dateline in Samoa 24 hours later.

In Singapore, more than 1,000 people gathered for an Earth Hour carnival in the city center to watch the lights go out at office towers, hotels and other landmarks.

Taipei 101, the world’s second tallest building, turned off all exterior lights and persuaded 99 percent of its tenants to do the same for an hour, the tower’s spokesman said.

In India, Delhi’s Red Fort went dark, as did the pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt and Rio de Janeiro’s Redeemer statue.

Lights also went out on all the bridges over the Seine in Paris, London’s Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge, while in the US, more than 30 of the 50 state governors lent their support.

- Arab News


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