Lebanon time zones: Partial clock change causes confusion
Najib Mikati, the interim Prime Minister, announced that daylight savings would start at the end of Ramadan next month. This will allow Muslims to break their daily fasts earlier.
However, Christian authorities stated that they would change the clocks on the last Sunday of March as happens every year.
Many other businesses are following suit.
This dispute demonstrates deep divisions in a nation where Christian and Muslim groups waged a civil battle in the late 1970s/early 1980s and where political positions were shared among religious groups.
On Thursday, Mr. Mikati (a Sunni Muslim) announced that he would delay the beginning of daylight saving until midnight, on April 20th.
Although he did not provide a reason, many commentators believe it was a way to increase his popularity during Ramadan. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on 22 March and ends on 21 April.
If the time remains unchanged, Muslims will be able to break their fast an hour earlier, at around 18:00 instead of 19:00, the time the sun sets.
But Lebanon’s influential Christian Maronite Church said it would disregard the decision, calling it “surprising”.
Several major Lebanese organizations have also decided to ignore it. Two news channels, LBCI and MTV, moved their clocks forward early on Sunday.
Middle East Airlines, the national carrier, decided on a compromise. It said its clocks and other devices would stay in winter time but its flight times would be adjusted to avoid disrupting international schedules.
There was also confusion for users of mobile phones and other electronic devices that automatically switch to daylight saving time, as many operators were not notified of the delay in time.
Journalist and Lebanon expert Kim Ghattas tweeted that the government’s abrupt move “throws travel plans, zoom calls and automatic phone times updates into utter disarray”.