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What time is it in the Middle East? Ask tribal leaders

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The Middle East is a vast, diverse region. Its countries have numerous cultural differences and varied rules regarding time zones. This can make scheduling meetings and phone calls challenging. Fortunately, we live in the digital age with easy solutions for virtual connections. There are 27 countries in the Middle East, but there’s no official standard for what constitutes the region. Some sources consider it to be everything from Turkey to Iran and from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. Other definitions focus solely on Arab states, which makes our job easier: we’ll be talking about those 27 countries that fall within the borders of this article’s scope.

Which Time Zone is Which?

To start, let’s get a quick overview of the major time zones that fall within the Middle East.

Arab Standard Time (AST): This is used in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, the Palestinian territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Eastern Standard Time (EST): This is used in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan.

Gulf Standard Time (GST): This is used in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Indian Standard Time (IST): This is used in Iran and Pakistan. – Iran Standard Time (IRST): This is used in Iran.

Israel Standard Time (IST): This is used in Israel. – Earlier in the 20th century, Egypt used Eastern European Time (EET) – but since 1979, it has used Eastern Mediterranean Time (EMT) – which is often also called Middle Eastern Time (MET).

Current Time in the Middle East

Now that we know which time zones are which, let’s take a look at what time it is in each region right now. We’ll start with the easternmost countries and work our way westward – and remember, we’re still talking about time zones that fall within the Middle East – In the Eastern Standard Time Zone, Iran and Pakistan have the same time as they do in New York City and Toronto. This makes it 9am in Tehran, 10am in Islamabad, and 11am in New Delhi. – In the Gulf Standard Time Zone, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates all have the same time as New York City. This makes it 9am in Manama, 10am in Doha, and 11am in New York City. – In the Indian Standard Time Zone, the same time is in effect in New Delhi. This makes it 5pm in Tehran, 6pm in Islamabad, and 7pm in New Delhi. – In the Iran Standard Time Zone, the same time is in effect in Tehran. This makes it 9am in New Delhi and 10am in Islamabad. – In the Israel Standard Time Zone, the same time is in effect in Jerusalem. This makes it 10am in New Delhi, 11am in Tehran, and midday in Islamabad.

Now that we’ve gotten a quick overview of the major time zones in the Middle East, let’s continue our journey through the region by focusing on one time zone at a time. First up: Arab Standard Time. – In Arab Standard Time, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen all have the same time as they do in New York City and Toronto. This makes it 9am in Baghdad, 10am in Damascus, 11am in Beirut, noon in Muscat, and 1pm in Kuwait City. – In Eastern Standard Time, Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan all have the same time as New York City. This makes it 9am in Tehran, 10am in Islamabad, and 11am in Kabul. – In Gulf Standard Time, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates all have the same time as New York City. This makes it 9am in Manama, 10am in Doha, and 11am in New York City. – In Indian Standard Time, the same time is in effect in New Delhi. This makes it 5pm in Tehran, 6pm in Islamabad, and 7pm in New Delhi. – In Iran Standard Time, the same time is in effect in Tehran. This makes it 9am in New Delhi and 10am in Islamabad. – In Israel Standard Time, the same time is in effect in Jerusalem. This makes it 10am in New Delhi, 11am in Tehran, and midday in Islamabad.

Daylight Saving Time in the Middle East

The Middle East is a region that doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time (DST), apart from Israel. Israel observes DST from March through September, although there is domestic pressure to follow the precedent of other countries and abolish it. Interestingly enough, between 2005 and 2008, by decree of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran did not observe daylight saving time (DST) (called Iran Daylight Time or IRDT). It was reintroduced from 21 March 2008. On 21 September 2022, Iran abolished DST according to independent farsi and now observes standard time year-round. This means that during the summer, the hours of sunlight remain constant. It also means that during the winter, the hours of sunlight decrease. For example, in Baghdad, the sun rises at 7am during the summer and 8am during the winter. In Damascus, the sun rises at 7am year-round. As you can see, it’s important to understand which time zone your Middle Eastern contacts are in. Otherwise, you might schedule a meeting at an inconvenient hour. And remember: when the summer ends, DST ends too. So, you’ll want to make sure that you’re adjusting your schedule accordingly.

Keep in mind that even within a country, the time zone can vary from area to area. For example, in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is in the central time zone, but the western and eastern borders are in the eastern zone. And remember that this article only covers the major time zones in the Middle East. There are some smaller areas that fall outside of these zones, too.

Image Credit: Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

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