BEIRUT

Middle East

One question across Egypt: What time is it?

Egyptians dance on a truck during a wedding celebration in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, May 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

CAIRO: Egypt’s sudden switch to daylight saving time Friday had everyone asking the same question: What time is it? The decision to move clocks ahead one hour, putting the country seven hours ahead of New York, saw computers and mobile phones showing the wrong time. Worried employees at Cairo International Airport made announcements and scurried to help passengers, though the flights appeared calm during the day.

Worshippers across Egypt also showed up early or late at mosques for Friday prayers. However, Muslim prayer times depend on the sun – not clocks – and the call to prayer echoed across Cairo just like normal.

Egypt’s military-backed interim government announced its decision in May to move clocks ahead as a power-saving measure.

The decision also had an effect on faith. The holy Muslim month of Ramadan, which sees the faithful fast during the day, has cycled into the long daylight hours of the summer months for the coming years.

This daylight saving period will last until Ramadan starts next month, then will resume until September.

But some see the time changes as just more trouble for Egypt after a tumultuous year that saw Islamist President Mohammad Morsi overthrown by the military following protests by millions against his rule.

Alaa al-Din, a 50-year-old devout Muslim and agricultural engineer from Cairo’s Faisal neighborhood, summed up the confusion over Egypt’s its clock chaos succinctly when asked the time Friday: “Your time or my time?”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 17, 2014, on page 11.

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