DUBAI The Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (ESMA) is working on a number of new standards for the UAE. XPRESS talks to Abdullah Al Maeeni, acting director general who explains in detail steps taken by ESMA to define standards for consumer goods sold in the country.
Excerpts from an interview
What new standardisations is ESMA working on at the moment?
We are setting standards for water fixtures in the UAE. By June this year, all agents and distributors will only sell ESMA approved fixtures. They will be tested for their water output levels and graded accordingly by us. Those with a lower output will be given a higher grading and vice versa. The way the test is done is that we measure the water flow for a minute from every tap and shower. Those with an output of 4 litres and less get a higher rating of two stars. Those with an output of 6 litres get one star. The idea is to economise water consumption in the UAE and it starts from the taps and showers we use. We are expecting to save around 60 per cent of water by using these products.
What about electrical appliances?
We already have regulations in place for washing machines, refrigerators and water heating products. Dishwashers and AC units are being added to our list of appliances. All appliances are checked by us for their energy efficiency and accordingly graded between one and five stars. The better the efficiency, the higher will be our grading. Distributors sell only ESMA approved appliances carrying our logo. They are aware of our procedures and understand that all their appliances have to comply with our standards. If you visit Carrefour you will find ESMA logos there. When customers buy an appliance they must look for our logo. This way they will be buying a product which is energy efficient.
What steps are you taking to monitor car imports?
We are making progress in this area. We are liaising with a number of car exporting countries to the UAE to provide information on their vehicles. This is to ensure that buyers importing cars have all the necessary information about the vehicle before purchasing it. We have signed an agreement with USA and all American cars can now be checked through our mobile application. One simply has to put the chassis number of the vehicle and the entire history of the car will be available. We have been seeing that a lot of customers in the UAE have been cheated while importing cars. Without a proper vehicle history, they end up spending more money to try and fix the car. We don’t want the UAE to become a garbage dump for vehicles.
For some time there has been talk of RFID tracking systems for tyres in the UAE. Tell us more about it.
By end of the year all new tyres sold in the UAE will have the RFID (Radio frequency Identification) tracking system. The process has already started. The way it works is all tyres will have an RFID transponder embedded inside so they can be tracked electronically. The transponder will have all information about the tyre like the date of manufacture and expiry.
Right now you will still find tyres sold without the RFID tracker. However, agents bringing new tyres to the market will come with the tracker. People must check for the RFID sticker when buying new tyres.
It is mandatory for only halal cosmetics to be sold in the UAE. What efforts is ESMA taking to ensure these are genuine?
We are closely monitoring the cosmetic industry in the UAE. Those claiming to sell halal cosmetics have to show their halal mark. Only ESMA-approved cosmetics have to be sold in the UAE. This applies to any international cosmetic brand. We want to make sure people are not freely using the word ‘halal’ to sell cosmetics. We are coordinating with other government bodies like the Ministry of Interior, Dubai Economic Department who are conducting checks at various cosmetic shops in the UAE to ensure only ESMA certified products are sold.
On our part, we test all cosmetics in laboratories before certifying them. We mainly check for heavy metals and strong chemical content in the cosmetics. So far we have issued over 600 certificates to agents and distributors.
Tell us about the halal industry.
Internationally the halal market is $2.3 trillion. Sixty-seven per cent is related to food and 27 per cent to cosmetics. In 2013, Dubai’s halal food and beverage market touched $1.1 trillion. During the Gulf Food we launched a new halal logo. It is not easy for anyone to get our halal stamp as we have a very comprehensive system in place. It is one of the best in the world.