Daylight saving dispute leaves Lebanon with two time zones


The Lebanese government’s last-minute decision to delay the start of daylight saving time by one month until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan led to mass confusion on Sunday. Japan.

With some organizations implementing the change while others refusing, many Lebanese have found themselves juggling work and school schedules in different time zones – in a country only has 88 km (55 miles) at its widest point.

In some cases, the debate was sectarian, with many politicians and Christian organizations, including the small nation’s largest church, the Maronite Church, rejecting the move.

This small Mediterranean country usually sets its clocks to one hour ahead on the last Sunday in March, coinciding with most European countries.

However, on Thursday, the Lebanese government announced the decision of interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati to push the start of daylight saving to April 21.

No reason has been given for this decision, but a video of a meeting between Mikati and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri leaked to local media shows Berri asking Mikati to postpone the implementation. daylight saving time to allow Muslims to fast for Ramadan one hour earlier.

Mikati replied that he had made a similar proposal but went on to say that implementing the change would be difficult as it would cause problems in the airlines’ flight schedules, causing Berri to interject,” Which flight?”

After the daylight savings delay was announced, Lebanon’s state airline, Middle East Airlines, announced the departure times of all flights scheduled to depart from Beirut airport from Beirut. Sunday to April 21 will be an hour earlier.

The country’s two mobile phone networks have sent messages to people asking them to change their watch settings to manual rather than automatic so that the time stays the same at midnight, although in many cases anyway, time has passed.

In theory, while public institutions are bound by the government’s decision, many private organizations, including broadcasters, schools and businesses, declare that they will ignore the decision and move to daylight saving on Sunday as previously scheduled.

Soha Yazbek, a professor at the American University of Beirut, is one of many parents who find themselves and their children currently tied to different schedules.

“So now I take my kids to school at 8am but get to work 42km away at 7:30am and then I leave work at 5pm but I go home an hour later at 7am. dark !!” Yazbek wrote on Twitteradded for the sake of her non-Lebanese friends, “I’m not crazy, I just live in Wonderland.”

Haruka Naito, a Japanese NGO worker living in Beirut, discovered that she had to be in two places at once on Monday morning.

“I have an appointment at 8 a.m. and a class at 9 a.m., now going to be at the same time,” she said. Her 8 a.m. appointment for residency paperwork is with a government agency on an official time, while her 9 a.m. Arabic class with an institute is scheduled to take place. switch to daylight saving.

The schism led to jokes about “Islamic time” and “Christian time”, while different internet search engines turned up mixed results early Sunday morning when asked about Current time in Lebanon.

In many cases, divisions have broken along factions, with some Muslims also opposing the change and pointing out that fasting must begin at dawn and end at dusk regardless time zone.

Many see the issue as a distraction from the country’s larger economic and political problems.

Lebanon is in the midst of the worst financial crisis in its modern history. Three-quarters of the population lives in poverty, and IMF officials recently warned the country could lead to hyperinflation if no action is taken. Lebanon has not had a president since President Michel Aoun’s term ended in late October as parliament failed to elect a replacement since.

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