On Monday, Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, announced the reversal of a contentious decision to postpone daylight saving time by one month, causing mass confusion and chaos.
The decision was made during a dedicated session to address the issue.
Mikati revealed in a televised address that daylight saving time would now commence at midnight on Wednesday/Thursday.
The original postponement led to complications as various institutions and individuals adhered to conflicting time schedules, causing difficulties in managing work and school routines.
The debate over daylight saving time also took on sectarian overtones, as numerous Christian politicians and institutions, including the Maronite Church, opposed the move.
Typically, Lebanon adjusts its clocks forward an hour on the last Sunday in March, aligning with most European countries.
However, last Thursday, Mikati decided to delay the start of daylight saving time until April 21, without providing a reason.
A leaked video of a meeting between Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri showed Berri requesting a delay to allow Muslims to break their Ramadan fast an hour earlier.
Mikati acknowledged making a similar proposal but highlighted the potential difficulties it would create for airline flight schedules. Berri dismissed his concerns by asking, “What flights?”
Following the initial postponement announcement, Lebanon’s state airline, Middle East Airlines, informed passengers that all flights departing from Beirut airport between Sunday and April 21 would be advanced by an hour. Lebanon’s two cellular networks, Alfa & Touch, advised people to switch their clocks to manual settings to avoid automatic time changes, although many still experienced the time shift.
Despite the government’s decision, several private institutions, such as TV stations, schools, and businesses, announced their intention to disregard the ruling and adopt daylight saving time on Sunday as initially planned.
Some public agencies, including the caretaker Education Minister Abbas Halabi, also refused to comply, arguing the decision was not legally valid as it was not taken during a Cabinet meeting.
Halabi later changed his stance, allowing educational institutions to decide for themselves until a Cabinet resolution was reached.