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Traditional bulbs fading out in UAE

No reorders for incandescent bulbs as only energy-efficient lights are allowed into the country

  • An LED light bulb.Image Credit: Supplied
  • An old-style light bulb.Image Credit: Supplied
Gulf News

Dubai: A UAE-wide ban on imports of traditional incandescent (tungsten filament) light bulbs, which are not energy efficient, is phasing out these “low quality” products.

Major supermarket chains have all but stopped selling the incandescent bulbs, which are usually now found only in small neighbourhood groceries.

In 2014, the federal Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma) banned incandescent bulb imports, saying they did not meet its quality standards.

Incandescent bulbs work by using electricity to heat the thin metal filament inside the glass, which gives out a typically warm yellow glow when heated. They don’t last as long as modern bulbs and use more power. They use only a small fraction of the energy, as low as five per cent, to produce visible light — the rest is wasted as heat.

Since the ban, only the more energy-efficient light sources such as CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps), LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and halogen bulbs are entering the country.

“The incandescent bulbs have been banned in the UAE for the last two years. No import of these bulbs is allowed. Whatever little is available in the market is the old stock and it is being phased out,” said Abdullah Al Muaini, Director-General, Esma.

Once the stock is gone, shops will not be allowed to reorder the incandescent bulbs. An Indian grocery manager in Jumeirah said he has only a few such bulbs left and won’t be ordering more in line with the rules.

“People like the incandescent bulbs because they are cheaper, going at about Dh2 for a 60 Watt bulb. That will last you a year. LEDs are much more expensive — almost 10 ten times as much — but save money in the long run because they last a lot longer, while using less power at the same time,” he added.

Pakistani expatriate Mohammad Imran, 38, said he doesn’t remember the last time he used an incandescent bulb at his Dubai villa.

“These bulbs are more common back home. Their signature yellow light and heat reminds me of my childhood days, when we used only tungsten bulbs. Florescent or LED lights are more common here in Dubai now,” Imran, who arrived in the UAE in the 1980s, added.

An Indian housewife in Sharjah said on condition of anonymity that she no longer uses incandescent bulbs. “These bulbs blow out sooner. I don’t know how safe they are. I’ve already replaced half a dozen bulbs in the last two years. My husband likes to shop for cheaper bulbs but I told him quality and safety are also important.”

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