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The ‘Tarsheed’ Police

August 9, 2007 by  


By Sumayyah Meehan, Muslim Media News Service

Middle East–The Ministry of Energy launched an all-encompassing conservation campaign at the start of the summer season in Kuwait. The campaign is called ‘Tarsheed’ which is the Arabic word for “guidance”. Over the past 2 months, residents in Kuwait have been bombarded with SMS messages, TV & Radio ads, fliers taped to car windshields and stuffed into mailboxes as well as giant placards scattered all over the roads pleading with residents to conserve energy. The Ministry has even ensured that all the languages in Kuwait, from Urdu to Hindi, are included in the campaign. And there is even a hotline that residents can call to report abuses of energy in the country.

Kuwait is the richest country in the World due to its’ mass oil reserves. So, why would a country like this have a problem with energy? Over consumption is the answer. Electricity is cheap in Kuwait. As a result, the public wastes energy because they are not in dire want of it. They take it for granted. However, things took a drastic change for the worse last summer. There were mass power shortages all over the country. I cannot even count the number of times my electric was off for 5 and 6 hours on end. And that is very dangerous especially when the summer temperatures can reach up to 120F in Kuwait.

The Tarsheed campaign has been successful in getting the word out and scaring the public silly. No one wants a power shortage. Life comes to a halt in Kuwait when there is no electricity to turn on the AC or even a fan. All you can do is ‘bake’ and pray for the electric to come back on! The public has been very receptive and so far my electricity has not gone off once this summer. And the campaign rolls on. They even installed a few Tarsheed meters around the country. It shows, in real time, the current amount of electricity being used by the country as a whole. The meter has 3 colors…green, orange and red. Motorists passing by the meters can visualize the rate of consumption and (if the meter is in the red area) when they go home they can take appropriate measures to conserve energy and avoid a debilitating power cut.

The newest installment in the rigorous Tarsheed campaign is, what some are calling, the ‘Tarsheed Police’. The Ministry has hired 100 inspectors to ensure that energy is being conserved in Kuwait. I am not exactly sure how they will keep a tab on private consumption. However, there have been several reports that inspectors have been calling residents on the phone. I, myself, received a call from an inspector a couple of days ago. The conversation went something like this:

“Good Morning, Madam”

“Good Morning”

“Are you conserving energy?”

“Yes…..”

“How many A/C’s do you have on right now?”

“uh…….two.”

“Is that really necessary?”

“uh…yeah..it’s HOT outside.”

“Madam, it is the responsibility of all the citizens in Kuwait to conserve energy. You can do this by only using one A/C during the peak hours of consumption, which is between 1-5pm. Also, you must switch you’re A/C’s down to 25C and switch all the lights off during the day.”

“Umm…sure…I will do my best!”

“Thank you, Madam.”

However, my best cannot live up to the Tarsheed standards I am sure. I have 3 small children and turning down the A/C to such a hot setting would be detrimental to their health when it is boiling outside. What I have done is kept all the doors to our bedrooms closed and left only the A/C on in the living room, which is pretty much the only place we can all congregate in the name of energy consumption.

So far the program has cost a whopping 35 million dollars. And it will extend to the winter months as well to keep the populous in a permanent state of energy-ness. So, it appears that the Tarsheed campaign will be a regular fixture in Kuwait for years to come.

Unfortunately, only recently has Kuwait explored alternatives to deal with the demand for energy for its’ populous. According to the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), a recent study conducted by German scientific research centers have found that if Kuwait utilizes only 10% of its’ total area to generate solar energy from the sun it would be the equivalent of 500,000 barrels of oil per day. The Kuwaiti government is vigorously investing in the renewable energies sector. KISR predicts that Kuwait will be a mass exporter of electricity generated by the Sun by 2050 and will export renewable energy to countries in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Until then, I can safely assume that I will be receiving more phone calls from the Tarsheed Police – “Madam, is your refrigerator running?”

And they won’t be joking!

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