In Brief: Confusion in Lebanon amid contested daylight savings disruption

Protests in Lebanon > RomanDeckert, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On Saturday the 25th across much of the world clocks were moved an hour forward to mark Daylight Savings Time, an act which for many signals the beginning of summer.

But one day before the clocks were due to go forward, Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced that the practice would not be observed in the country for another month.

In a leaked piece of audio, the Prime Minister revealed that the apparent reason for this announcement was to allow Muslims to break fast for Ramadan at 6pm, when the sun currently sets, as opposed to an hour later under DST.

However this decision provoked outrage from Lebanon’s Christian community, which make up over a third of the population, with religious leaders urging their congregations instead to observe the change to DST in their daily lives.

The dispute has effectively divided Lebanese society into two separate time zones, resulting in significant disruption to businesses as they struggle to cater to the divergent schedules of customers and suppliers.

The disruption is the latest in a series of upheavals that have rocked the country following a major explosion at the port of Beirut in 2020, whose aftermath has provoked an ongoing crisis of political accountability which has left many government posts unfilled, including the presidency which has been vacant since October of last year.