Delayed start to Lebanon's daylight savings time leads to political dispute

The move comes only days before the clocks were due to change

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced that daylight savings time will be introduced from midnight on April 20. AFP
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Lebanon delayed the start of daylight savings by almost a month, just days before the clocks were due to change on Sunday.

The announcement was made by the secretary general of the Council of Ministers, who acted on Prime Minister Najib Mikati's decision to "exceptionally" amend the change.

No other reason was given. Daylight savings will be introduced from midnight on April 20.

The move comes as Muslims mark the religious month of Ramadan.

It means those fasting will break their fast at an earlier hour than if the clocks had changed, and would be fasting during one less waking hour.

As of March 24, the sun was predicted to set at 5.52pm Beirut time.

In Lebanon's bitterly divided political scene, the move was met with some short shrift.

Gebran Bassil, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement party and a frequent critic of Mr Mikati, said the move was "not acceptable".

Given the short notice, and the fact that Lebanon's daylights saving hours are normally aligned with Europe, it was unclear how the move might affect things like electronic devices.

Flag carrier Middle East Airlines announced that it was bring flights forward by an hour to not affect any passengers taking flight transfers.

Amid the daylight saving decision, footage was leaked of a discussion between Mr Mikati and parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri over the debacle.

The footage appeared to have come from a meeting the two held on Thursday at Mr Berri's residence.

"Lets do this thing," Mr Berri says according to the footage. "Instead of it being seven o'clock, it will stay six o'clock from now until the end of Ramadan. At the end of Ramadan we'll turn back the clock."

"But I submitted this proposal and they told me they asked you and you refused," Mr Mikati retorts.

"No, no, no," Mr Berri responds.

"That's what they told me," says Mr Mikati. "I wanted it this way. I wanted it to delay to the last Saturday of April."

"Yes, make it so," says Mr Berri.

"It can't be done. There are flights and a world of problems," responds Mr Mikati, adding that taking the decision would be "difficult".

Nonetheless, it appears that eventually the decision was taken to postpone daylight savings.

Updated: March 26, 2023, 2:42 PM