Businesses lose out on Friday ‘busy-hours’ due to nation-wide blackout

vendors set outside their vacant shops as they empty out during a nation-wide blackout on Friday
Vendors sit outside their vacant shops as they empty out during a nation-wide blackout on Friday, in downtown Amman, May 21, 2021. (Photo: Leen Al-Rashda/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Over a year since the start of the pandemic, struggling industries starving for business were hit with another blow: a Kingdom-wide power blackout on Friday afternoon, that forced many shops to close during their busiest hours of the day.اضافة اعلان

Ameen Abu Zaid, who has been working at the cash register at Hashem, a restaurant in downtown Amman, for the past ten years, told Jordan News that this has been the longest period of time the power has been out at Hashem. 

“This time around, it’s taking much longer than usual to come back,” said Abu Zaid. “It happened during the busiest time of the day. The situation is really horrible.”

The nation-wide outage, which lasted several hours and was restored gradually, was due to Egyptian maintenance work on an underwater power cable that connects the power grids of Egypt and Jordan, Minister of state for media affairs and government spokesperson, Sakher Dudin. Blackouts were reported across Amman and the governorates on Friday.

According to the National Electric Power Company’s (NEPCO) website, Jordan is interconnected with Egypt’s power grid via a submarine cable in the south, across the Gulf of Aqaba.

Abu Zaid explained that the restaurant’s work came to a halt and they were unable to serve a large number of customers who have come to the popular traditional restaurant

“When the electricity went out, I needed bread and the bakeries didn’t have any. Right now, you won’t find a single bakery that has bread, because all of them depend on machines working on electricity. We are all out of falafel and hummus; making them is also dependent on machines.”

Like most restaurants, Hashem has been affected during the pandemic and the restrictions that came with it. During Ramadan, Hashem was only open for delivery and only during night hours. Abu Zaid emphasized that the blackout was another “heavy blow”. 

Abu Zaid is still hopeful that things will go back to normal.

“Hopefully it comes back sooner because, honestly, a lot of people were affected by it. It’s not just us, it’s everyone. The bakeries, the restaurants, everyone. People can’t wait for Friday to come, they’re off and want to go out.”

Similar concerns were shared by Ragheb Khaled, an owner of three clothing shops in downtown Amman. For Khaled’s business, Friday, during which a full lockdown was imposed for the majority of the past year, is indispensable. “Friday is a main day for us, better than any other day. You can set all other days on the side and Friday on another.”

“There is no selling or buying, the economic process has been halted entirely; before the power cut, there was a promising number of people,” Khaled said, adding that the hours on Friday that bring in the most revenue are those when the power was out.

Likewise, Osama Shanaa, the owner of a Japanese cake shop called “Uncle Osaka”, told Jordan News that “We had to give people mochi (Japanese ice cream) for free yesterday. We had to do this as we had a large quantity in stock that may get damaged or melt when there is a power blackout.” 

“Restaurants and shops have suffered yesterday in the blackout, especially those whose work requires power, like an ice cream shop for example,” said Shanaa. 

“Imagine that the blackout took place on Friday and also during lunch time. Can you expect how much they lost? Especially because they need to work to compensate losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.”

The popular Hashem Restaurant, usually bustling with tourists and locals on Fridays, is seen empty on May 21, 2021, after a nation-wide power outage paralyzed the kitchen.

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