Saturday, March 25, 2023

In Lebanon: What time is it? Depends whom you ask

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

Well, as if Lebanon had no problems, no issues, no exploding economy, no political conundrums, no inflation by the double digit, no acute poverty which is reaching a major part of the population, and so on and so forth.... Why? Because we have a major squabble. 

Introducing - or rather not introducing - daylight saving time.

Here's the dilemma - daylight saving time, which affects automatically computers, cellphones, major electronic machines which are linked to power grids, the aviation industry and a million other sectors.... Is going to be postponed in Lebanon to allow Muslims to fast one hour less till the end of the month of Ramadan.

Cue: Panic and dissidence.

Already two major television stations - pro-Christians mind you - are not going to abide by the decision. A major school decided not to abide either. However Middle East Airlines will change the departure of its flights by one hour. The central bank is not going to apply the decision to its machines due to the major sensitivity but will abide by the working hours related to not applying daylight saving.

If confused worry not, everyone else is.

At this point, apart from the major issues Lebanon faces, no one knows if there is or there is not daylight saving time. Already the two companies providing cell phone services have sent text messages to subscribers to put their cell phones on manual when it comes to clocks to avoid the automatic flip. Yet, no one understands how can this apply on major scales - I am told someone who is an IT head in a major company and responsible for 900 computers is facing an existential crisis as to what to do, or not do at this point.

Seriously, this would have been funny in other circumstances. Unfortunately, this is one of those instances where religious sensitivities are stoked, and suddenly everyone is retracting to the trenches when the situation is already super delicate on all fronts.

But this is indeed Lebanon, where everything gets to become grotesque.