Saudi Arabia officials are urging Muslims to conserve energy during Ramadan, a holy month in which Muslims must abstain from all food, drink, smoking and sex between sunrise and sundown. Traditionally, there has been a 50 percent spike in electricity use and power outages across the Middle East during the holy month, possibly due to an increase in late-night activity when the day’s fasting ends. A campaign run by the Saudi Center for Energy Efficiency (SCEE) called “Advise Me” stressed the religious and economic importance of saving resources.
Power outages in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan are not uncommon. One economist attributed the spike in electricity usage to people using more air-conditioning during the day and light bulbs at night, MSN News Reported.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has introduced new rules to curb its massive energy consumption. The rules require homes and businesses to install insulation and tighten standards for air conditioners, Arab News reported. There is also a new fuel efficiency standard for cars that will take affect in January 2016.
“Energy consumption is 4.2 million boepd (barrels of oil equivalent per day) currently and is expected to rise to more than 8 million boepd by 2030 if we don’t work hard to limit the big waste,” said Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, deputy minister of petroleum and mineral resources and chairman of the executive committee of the Saudi Center for Energy Efficiency, according to Arab News.
Other Middle Eastern nations have struggled with energy consumption during Ramadan in recent years. In 2013, Jordan raised its electricity tariffs after Ramadan, citing disruptions in natural gas and increases in oil prices on international markets. Last year, Iranians struggled with regular power outages during the holy month amid high summer temperatures as energy use climbed by 11 percent, the National reported.
Ramadan began on June 17 and is observed as the holy month by the world’s 1.6 million Muslims.