Emergency lighting questioned after Yas Mall evacuation

The issue of the effectiveness of emergency lighting standards has been raised again following the mass evacuation of hundreds of shoppers from the massive Yas Mall in Abu Dhabi.

Visitors to the mall were forced to use their mobile phone lights to guide themselves to safety after being plunged suddenly into darkness over the New Year holiday period. The black out lasted more than an hour.

A power cut meant the lights and escalators suddenly stopped working at around 7pm before power was restored at about 8.45pm. ‘It was quite an eerie scene,’ British shopper Manj Marva told the National newspaper. ‘I was at the Fun Works area with my two daughters and they had just got off one of the rides when all of a sudden the lights went off and everything just stopped.’

‘I would say there were about 400 to 500 people in the area we were at, and you could see many of them using the lights on their mobile phones to make their way around,’ added Mr Marva.

Police eventually arrived at the scene to guide people to safety, and a police helicopter was scrambled to monitor developments and assist in the evacuation.

Videos taken at the scene appear to show adequate emergency lighting in certain areas, but the necessity for the use of mobile phone lights in other areas such as the escalators.

According to the regulations, emergency lighting systems needs to be supplied automatically in the event of any interruption of normal lighting due to a failure of the electrical power supply. It should provide an initial illumination of at least 10.8 lux (1 foot candle) and not less that 1.1 lux (0.1 foot candle) on the route to safety, and the minimum should be provided for not less than three hours in the event of failure of normal lighting.

The UAE’s code is based on a blend of established European, British and American practice and laws, and is prescriptive over some areas and open to interpretation in others.


  • The issue of emergency lighting will be discussed at a special session at the LuxLive Middle East event on 13 and 14 April at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. To register to participate, visit www.luxlive.ae


  • The key elements of the UAE’s emergency lighting regulations have been clarified by experts in a special webcast. In it, experts Richard Caple of the Society of Light and Lighting and Catherine Elliott-Scott of Buro Happold show the ways in which consultants, contractors and designers can provide robust installations.  In the webinar, the duo explore the key design codes, UAE’s Fire and Life Safety Code, the requirements for signage, illumination levels, the requirements for both stand-alone systems and central battery systems, glare, product suitability and selection, the testing regime, product approvals and certification and the required paperwork for a compliant scheme including certificates of compliance. The webinar is free to watch and download by registering HERE


  • A special Lux conference on emergency lighting is taking place on Thursday 25 February 2016 at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London, UK. Entry is free to specifiers including facility managers, consulting engineers, estate managers, energy managers and others responsible to emergency lighting installations and their specification. Register for your free place and view the full programme HERE.

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