Three-pronged solution

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Second only to bottled water, it sometimes seems, the most ubiquitous product found in this country's retail stores is the electric-plug adapter. The UAE's history, geography, rapid development and diversity have all contributed to a crazy quilt of electrical gear. Nothing seems to plug into anything else.

This familiar mismatch can, however, be more than an annoyance; there are also serious safety considerations. So it is good news that starting next year, small household and office appliances will no longer be sold with two-pin electrical plugs.

Because other countries do use such plugs, they are standard equipment on many electrical devices sold here. To be fair to wholesalers and retailers, and to avoid supply disruptions in the market, a ban cannot be imposed overnight.

The new standard, being imposed by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology, is based on a British one, and involves a ground-wire which can reduce the risk of shock and fire, shuttering to ensure the ground is used, and a fuse, another safety feature.

As pleased as we all should be about having safer gadgets, however, there's also another aspect to be glad about: the two-prong plugs pull out of an adapter at the slightest tug. How on earth is a person supposed to vacuum when that happens?