The decision to postpone the onset of daylight savings time in Lebanon took many by surprise and was adopted almost unilaterally, during an almost surreal discussion between outgoing Prime Minister, Najib Mikati and the Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri. The changeover to daylight saving time, which is usually scheduled for March 24, has been postponed until the end of April.
While no official reason has been stated for the decision — whose consequences remain uncertain — an adviser of Mikati along with a video of the meeting between the Prime Minister and Berri on Thursday, confirmed that it is related to the month of Ramadan, during which practicing Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
"Make it work"
A video taken at Thursday’s meeting between Berri and Mikati leaked to the media.
تأجيل العمل بالتوقيت الصيفي .. #بري طلب و #ميقاتي استجاب pic.twitter.com/UwKzv5fKcz— Al Jadeed News (@ALJADEEDNEWS) March 23, 2023
"I propose to do something. Instead of [breaking the fast] at 7 p.m., we will do it at 6 p.m., until the end of Ramadan. At the end of Ramadan, we will switch back to daylight saving time," Berri said.
"But I have already made this proposal and I was told that you refused. I wanted to delay [the switch to daylight saving time] to the last Saturday in April," responded Mikati, who seemed taken aback.
"Make it work," replied Berri.
"We can't do it, it will be a problem for aviation. We can't do it now, it's difficult," retorted the Prime Minister, to which the head of parliament replied, "What aviation?"
The apprehensions expressed by Mikati were swept away by the insistence of Berri and the impulsive decision was made without an official justification. The measure was taken "exceptionally", says a text signed by the Secretary General of the council of ministers, Mahmoud Makkieh.
In addition to the concerns came criticism. In a tweet posted Thursday night, Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil called the move "unacceptable."
"This decision speaks volumes. We cannot remain silent. We are considering filing an appeal or not complying with it," Bassil wrote.
"This story serves to divert the attention of public opinion," said Mark Daou, a change MP. "The real danger is the reproaches of the International Monetary Fund [Thursday] to the government, the Bank of Lebanon and the Parliament ...Those who play with time are working on a methodical destruction of the lives of the Lebanese," added the MP on Twitter. On Thursday, the IMF said that Lebanon is living "a very dangerous moment,” and deplored the political leaders' reluctance to implement much-needed reforms.
Some have given the issue a sectarian flare. Others have taken to humor.
"The only thing missing is to shift weekends to Friday [the Islamic holy day] instead of Sunday," wrote one Twitter user.
بعد تأجيل #التوقيت_الصيفي ، ميقاتي يفكّر في إلغاء يوم الاثنين— Naim Halawi (@NaimHalawi) March 23, 2023
"After the postponement of summer time, Mikati is thinking of canceling Mondays," tweeted comedian Naim Halawi.
"My Christian colleagues tell me 'We are worthless in this country now. You decide not to change the time and we have to comply," said a lawyer on Twitter, in reference to the decision made between the Sunni Prime Minister and the Shiite head of the legislature.
March 24, 2023
"The IMF: Time is running out. Berri & Mikati: we'll change the time." read another Tweet.
Messages also circulated on WhatsApp groups.
"Notice to Christians who are doing Lent until noon: if you are hungry before 12, you can advance the time. Our God is not less good than Berri and Mikati," read one message.
The decision to postpone the onset of daylight savings time in Lebanon took many by surprise and was adopted almost unilaterally, during an almost surreal discussion between outgoing Prime Minister, Najib Mikati and the Speaker of the House, Nabih Berri. The changeover to daylight saving time, which is usually scheduled for March 24, has been postponed until the end of April.While no official...