Morocco turns back the clock for Ramadan

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Morocco turns back the clock for Ramadan


Morocco decided to end this summer's experiment with daylight saving time early, in order to accommodate Ramadan schedules for praying and fasting.

By Imane Belhaj for Magharebia in Casablanca—26/08/08

On Monday (September 1st) Morocco will turn back the clocks one hour to standard GMT time, giving up the +1 GMT time that went into effect on June 1st.

The decision to adopt daylight saving time – for the first time since 1989 – was announced in May and touted as an opportunity to save energy and harmonize international communications between banks, airlines and other businesses.

Originally scheduled to switch back to normal GMT time on September 27th, daylight saving time will now end earlier, on September 1st, to accommodate the population’s needs during the month of Ramadan, the Ministry of Public Sector Modernisation announced in a communiqué.

While welcoming the decision, a number of individuals and newspapers have criticized the Moroccan government for not considering the implications of Ramadan earlier. L’Economiste considered the hastily-announced decision as a “messy and improvised change”.

Media technician Chafik Allali echoed the paper’s sentiment, saying the decision to set the clock sixty minutes ahead had not been well studied and that it would therefore be better to go back to the regular timing before the original deadline set by the government.

Civil servant Abdelkhalek Tazi told Magharebia that when the government decided to launch daylight saving time in June, it failed to consider the hours of prayers, Iftar, Sohour, work and school during the holy month of Ramadan. A simple calculation would have shown that the hours of fasting would be longer, Abdelkhalek said.

Housewife Malika Skhifi agreed, saying that the extra hour would have caused her much confusion and made fasting longer and more arduous. Work would have started earlier and Iftar would have occurred at 8:20 pm, instead of 7:20 pm. Tarawih and Ishaa prayers would have taken place around eleven at night or even later.

Morocco has observed the daylight-saving measure twice before: from March 16th, 1984 through October 1st, 1985, and again for the month of June in 1989. According to Public Sector Modernisation Minister Mohammed Abbou, these earlier experiments were successful at “improving the management of domestic affairs, the relationship between the government and citizens … reducing the cost of management and allowing the biggest number of employees to make optimum use of time”.

In its recent communiqué, the Ministry said that potential reductions in energy had figured prominently in the decision to adopt daylight saving time this year. With the clocks turned ahead, the government expected the country to make better use of the sunlight, thus reducing the use of electricity in homes, factories and offices.

Abbou noted that the 1984 and 1989 experiences had produced positive outcomes in terms of reducing operations costs and enabling employees to make better use of daylight hours. Previous studies showed that Morocco uses 1% less energy during daylight saving time, a bonus which is all the more important given the high prices of energy production.

Despite the decision to end daylight saving time early due to Ramadan, the Ministry said it plans to form a committee to study the results of this year’s experiment to better inform future decisions on whether to adopt daylight saving time permanently, or to completely abandon it.