Lebanon, a country already struggling with one of the world’s worst economic crises, now faces a new challenge – two different time zones making it hard to tell the current local time in Lebanon. The controversy began when the government decided to postpone the winter clock changes, with Daylight Saving being introduced from midnight on April 20 instead of from midnight on March 25.
No official explanation has been given for the move, but local media has suggested it was introduced to coincide with Ramadan. However, the decision is facing widespread revolt, with two TV channels going ahead with the clock changes in protest complicating the current local time in Lebanon. MTV Lebanon and LBCI Lebanon say they will refuse to cooperate with the adjustment, announcing they will go ahead with switching to Daylight Saving Time on Saturday.
This has created confusion as to what the correct current local time in Lebanon is, as the government has yet to say whether it has informed officials responsible for synchronizing times on mobile phones, laptops, and other electronic devices of the change. Additionally, Lebanon woke up in two time zones on Sunday, with an escalating dispute between political and religious authorities over the decision to extend winter time for a month.
Where does the confusion regarding the current local time in Lebanon stem from?
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati issued a decision on Thursday to roll clocks forward an hour on April 20, instead of entering daylight savings time on the last weekend of March as is usually the case in Lebanon, Europe, and other regions. Though no reason was given for the decision, it was seen as an attempt to score a win among Muslims by allowing those fasting during the holy month of Ramadan to break their fasts an hour earlier, at around 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.
However, Lebanon’s influential Maronite church on Saturday announced it would disobey the decision, calling it “surprising” and saying there had been no consultations with other actors or considerations of international standards. Other Christian organizations, parties, and schools announced similar plans, while Muslim institutions and parties appeared set to remain in winter time.
Businesses and media organizations, including two of Lebanon’s main news channels LBCI and MTV, announced they too would enter daylight savings on Saturday night as calls for disobedience gained steam. LBCI said in a statement that it would disobey Mikati’s decision because it would have harmed its work, adding: “Lebanon is not an island”.
Many have said the uncertainty and potential chaos was emblematic of decades of failed governance by leaders that led Lebanon into a 2019 financial crisis the World Bank said was “orchestrated” by elites. As of now, the situation remains uncertain, with the government facing backlash from various groups and individuals, and no clear resolution in sight.