Lebanon postpones daylight savings time, causing confusion

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Lebanon postpones daylight savings time, causing confusion

The Lebanese government decided to delay daylight savings time by a month until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which resulted in mass confusion on Sunday.

With some institutions implementing the change while others don't, many Lebanese have found themselves in the position of juggling work and school schedules in different time zones in the same small country.

The debate took on a sectarian nature with many Christian politicians and institutions, including the nation's largest church, the Maronite church, opposing the move.

The Mediterranean country usually sets its clocks forward an hour on the last Sunday in March, which aligns with most European countries.

The start of daylight savings was announced on Thursday by Lebanon s government, Najib Mikati, on Thursday.

There was no reason for the decision, but a video of a meeting between Mikati and parliament speaker Nabih Berri leaked to local media, showing Berri asking Mikati to postpone daylight savings time to allow Muslims to break their Ramadan fast an hour earlier.

Mikati responds that he had made a similar proposal but goes on to say that implementing the change would be difficult as it would cause problems in airline flight schedules, to which Berri responds: What flights? After the postponement of daylight savings was announced, Lebanon s state airline, Middle East Airlines, said departure times of all flights scheduled to leave from the Beirut airport between Sunday and April 21 would be advanced by an hour.

The country's two mobile networks sent messages to people asking them to change their clock settings to manual instead of automatic in order for the time not to change at midnight, although in many cases the time advanced anyway.

While public institutions are bound by the decision, many private institutions, including TV stations, schools and businesses, announced that they would ignore the decision and move to daylight savings on Sunday as previously scheduled.

On Monday morning, Haruka Naito, a Japanese non-governmental organisation worker living in Beirut, discovered she had to be in two places at the same time.

She said I had an 8 am appointment and a 9 am class at the same time. The 8 am appointment for her residency paperwork is with a government agency after the official time, while her 9 am Arabic class is with an institute that is expected to make the switch to daylight savings.

The schism has led to jokes about Muslim time and Christian time, while different internet search engines came up with different results early Sunday morning when asked about the current time in Lebanon.

While in many cases the schism broke down along sectarian lines, some Muslims objected to the change, and pointed out that fasting is supposed to begin at dawn and end at sunset regardless of time zone.

Many saw 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 history. IF no action is taken, the country could be heading for hyperinflation, according to officials at the International Monetary Fund. Since the end of the term of Michel Aoun in late October, Lebanon hasn't had a president, as the parliament has failed to elect a replacement since.