What time is it in Lebanon? Daylight time debacle divides country into 2 time zones
Lebanese people woke up in two time zones on Sunday after last-minute decision to delay time change
Lebanon's caretaker prime minister said the cabinet had voted to move clocks one hour ahead on Wednesday night, reversing his decision to postpone the move to daylight time by a month that had sparked uproar across the country and led to people waking up in two time zones on Sunday.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Monday the decision had been taken after a "calm discussion" and that the state needed 48 hours to re-adjust its operations.
Mikati angered many Lebanese when he decided last Thursday not to start daylight time over the last weekend of March, in line with Europe, but instead to roll clocks forward an hour on April 20.
That decision came after a meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in which Berri asked him to postpone the time switch, according to footage of the meeting seen by Reuters.
It was seen as an attempt to score points among Muslims who are fasting until sunset during the holy month of Ramadan. Moving clocks forward means Muslims would have to fast an additional hour as sunset would be at a later time on the clock.
But the move was defied by Lebanon's top Christian authority, the Maronite church, as well as some schools, media outlets and businesses, which rolled their clocks forward on Saturday night.
Mikati even faced objections from within cabinet, including the justice minister who said Lebanon had more important challenges to focus on.
The country has been without a president for five months and a protracted financial crisis has brought most public institutions to a standstill.
Mikati referred to the crises in his comments on Monday.
"Let us be clear. The problem is not winter or summer time.... Rather, the problem is the vacuum in the top post in the republic," he said.
Adapting to double time
Lebanon's national carrier Middle East Airlines said last week its clocks would stay in winter time but it would adjust its flight times to keep in line with international schedules.
The state-run telecom duopoly sent messages to customers advising them to set the time on their devices manually, in case the clocks had automatically gone forward.
Many said the 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.
"They create problems to deepen the division between Muslims and Christians ... those in power are the ones benefiting from peoples' disputes," said Mohamed al-Arab, standing in the street with his friends in Tariq el-Jdideh, a predominantly Sunni Muslim area in Beirut.
At a Beirut cafe on Saturday evening, a Reuters journalist heard one customer ask: "Will you follow the Christian or Muslim clock starting tomorrow?"
Some Twitter users shared an old recording of famed Lebanese composer and musician Ziad Rahbani speaking about daylight saving.
"Each year, you put the clock forward an hour and you keep us back 10 years," he said, addressing Lebanese politicians.
"You should pay attention to the years too, not just the hour."