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Lebanon’s daylight controversy: What’s all the fuss about?

Mass confusion has gripped Lebanon as residents find themselves wrangling over two different time zones.

The confusion stems from the government’s decision to stick with the current timetable, despite calls from some Christian communities and other groups to follow the international pattern for daylight saving time.

While no official statement has been issued explaining the government’s decision, a video purportedly showing a meeting between Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has shed some light on the issue. 

In the video, the two leaders apparently discuss the extension of the daylight period to continue until the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which ends on the 21th of April. The reason given was to shorten the period of fasting until the holy month, although the timing of fasting in Islam is not affected by the time zone, as it is based on a period of time between dawn and dusk.

The decision has caused widespread confusion among businesses and individuals, with many unsure of what time to operate on. The issue has also highlighted the political and religious divisions within the country, with some groups calling for a unified approach to daylight saving time.


The confusion caused by the different time zones has worsened the problems for Lebanese citizens who have been struggling to juggle their work and school schedules across the country’s 88-kilometre width amidst the ongoing economic turmoil. 

Lebanon’s national airline, Middle East Airlines, has announced that its departure times will now be adjusted to the new time zone and will be advanced by an hour.

Several mobile phone carriers have sent text messages to their customers, asking them to change their default automatic clock settings to manual to avoid further confusion.

While public institutions are bound by the government’s decision to maintain the current timetable, many private institutions, TV stations, and schools have chosen to ignore the government’s decision.

Changing time zone

Lebanon has become the first country known to extend its Daylight Saving Time (DST) schedule by about a month. 

It was mainly done to give people more daylight, particularly during the summer months and also enable longer outdoor activities while reducing the amount of energy and electricity needed for lighting and heating.

However, the benefits of DST have been the subject of debate for many years, and not all countries observe it. For instance, Japan, India, China and Türkiye are among the major countries that do not observe some form of daylight saving.

In 2023, the world changed its clocks for DST on March 12 at 2:00 am (forward), and it will end on November 5 at 2:00 am (backward). Nevertheless, the specific dates and times for DST can vary between countries and regions.

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