Hisham Qandil
Egypt's new prime minister, Hisham Qandil, speaks during his first news conference at his office in Cairo - Reuters Reuters

In what has been seen as a bad joke by many Egyptians, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil has told his citizens to wear cotton clothes and gather in a single room to conserve power.

The Muslim Brotherhood's first prime minister of free Egypt has angered the public with his remarks on energy consumption.

"It's so important to reduce electricity consumption. This year the rationing is optional but in the long run it will be obligatory," Qandil told a press conference, according to the Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm.

The country is experiencing a serious power crisis and many parts of the capital Cairo were plunged into darkness the night before the prime minister's remarks. Egyptians are struggling to cope with the intense summer heat as well as the power cuts.

Businesses are taking a battering because of the power shortage.

According to reports, Egypt is producing around 23,000 to 24,000 megawatts of power, far below its capacity of 28,000 megawatts. The power crisis has been caused by fuel shortages and some power plants falling behind in output.

Egypt is one of the world's largest producers of cotton, but its people are aghast at their prime minister's suggestion to wear cotton clothes to tackle the power crisis.

Egyptians went online to express their rage. "Now I know why I am not feeling the renaissance. Of course: it's because I am wearing polyester," writes one sarcastic citizen, according to Ahram online.

Another correspondent says: "Perfect! We should apply the same rationing system on water, too: let's shower together."

"Mr PM, thank you for the cotton tip but you didn't tell us what colour, and does the Brotherhood allow the G-string?" writes another angry Egyptian.