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Morocco: Resisting Daylight Savings

The modern concept of Daylight Savings Time was conceived by William Willett in 1905 and was first initiated by Germany in 1916. Most of the world does not participate in Daylight Savings Time, and until recently, Morocco was no exception. This year, however, the Moroccan government decided to re-introduce DST.

Margot the Marrakesh Mystic explains the situation:

By advancing clocks one hour, the government feels the additional daylight will help tourism. Additionally, business and banking times will be more closely aligned with European trading and business partners, particularly France.

Some Moroccans (98.7% Muslim) are now talking about how Daylight Savings Time will extend the hour of the Ramadan breakfast by one hour.

Some feel the time change is a problem for Ramadan, while others feel it’s not a problem at all. In any case, people will be getting up one hour earlier by the sun to go to work, and since Ramadan ends each day with the sunset time, the hours of awake fasting will seem extended by one hour. Ramadan is now beginning to move into the summer season (September this year, August next year), so the change will be noticed.

In the face of soaring fuel prices, Morocco is trying to maintain fuel subsides to the general population, in terms of gasoline and cooking fuel. The time change is partly an effort to save on energy consumption.

North Africa Notes tells us the word on the street:

Every person with whom I have spoken with today and almost every conversation I overheard walking down the street, in the old city, or in the taxi was about the time change. Most of the conversations either started out with ” So – what do you think of this time change thing?” Or you heard people saying, ” So- what time is it now?” Most people just seemed to be in bewilderment as to why exactly we were moving the clock forward. It just seemed to be inconveniencing everyone and throwing off peoples rhythms. Especially with regards to prayer times around which a good number of people here still manage their lives, ALhamdulilah. So now sunset prayer will not be until around 8:35pm at night and the night prayer will begin at around 10:15 pm.
People are already trying to figure out how this is going to effect their fasting in the month of Ramadan which is about 3 months away.( This Daylight Savings is supposed to stay in effect until Sept 27th)

Although the change is country-wide, not all Moroccans are quick to accept the time change. Jenny in Morocco, a Peace Corps volunteer, shares how things are in her neck of the woods:

Twenty years is a long time and I can understand how people might find this change complicated or unnatural. Imagine if you were 25 years old and the last time you experienced Daylight Savings Time, you were five years old. But, excluding young people, you'd think the older folks would remember and try to adopt the time change.

Instead, what's happened here is slightly insane and very very confusing. I call it the “new time” “old time” paradox. Official places like schools, government buildings, the airport, and cities have changed over to the “new time.” Everyone else, including my town, have stayed with the “old time.” Well, everyone except for me and the mayor's office, the post office, and the schools. And the schools are closed now, so I'm pretty sure the kids are functioning on “old time.”

Another member of the Peace Corps, Duncan Goes To Morocco is having a similar experience:

One other thing is that last week, for the first time ever, Morocco moved its clocks forward in a daylight savings sort of thing. The only thing is that no one in my community (and I’m assuming many other rural communities) understands or follows it. The school, health clinic, and government building all follow the new time, but no one else does. They all know that the change has happened, but there’s no reason for them to do it. I changed the clock in my house, hoping to have my family be the trendsetters in the village. But their daily schedule is just like it was before the change – it follows the sun, not the clock. And now, whenever my mom says a time, she says the old time, followed by the word for old. For example, she’ll say, “the transport is coming at seven tomorrow – the old seven.” Then she always laughs because she thinks it’s hilarious I changed the clock.

Yet another PCV, Connie in Morocco, puts it simply:

Morocco went on Daylight Savings Time on June 1. Do you think my village and the surrounding douars (settlements) did?

10 comments

  • jala nali

    yes, interesting but you must know that morocco is not just far villages, there are big cities, and we know why this change is for!
    you give a so small and reduced image of morocco, you should tend to touch all the sides of a subject,(it’s what we call journalisme)

  • I think if everyone continues to follow the “sun time” in terms of their schedules, it means they all stay up an hour LATER at night (by the clock) than they used to, so this will not save any energy at ALL! And the comments by various people above seem to fairly represent what I have seen people in Marrakesh doing. Businesss have changed their clock times, but people don’t go at the new times, they just go one hour (by the clock) at basically the same sun time as they did before.

    Margot, in Marrakesh
    margotmystic.wordpress.com

  • Kamal

    The other day I woke up at six in the morning. I went through my morning rituals and headed to work. I always take a cab because I hate to be late; I enjoy a reputation of being very punctual among my colleagues. When I reached where I work, I glanced at my watch; it was a quarter to eight. To my surprise, everyone was already there, even the usual later comers. By then, I realized that something big must have happened during my leave and about which I was in the dark.

    I felt quite puzzled and confused; every one was looking at me in surprise—my colleagues were waiting for an extraordinary excuse. Even my boss, who can be a real pain in the neck when it comes to time respect, was speechless waiting for me to speak. I did not utter a single word. I went to my office believing that something was wrong with my face. I sat behind my computer and used my sunglasses as a mirror; I looked just normal— of course my facial features were magnified but that was because of my sunglasses. When I started my computer, I was flooded with messages from my colleagues who were by then beyond patience and curiosity. I did not know how to answer questions like “what’s up?” and “is everything OK?”; all those questions seemed to me out of context; I thought my co-workers were up to something or playing games with me, so I blocked their messages and focused on my work.

    By and By, as I was answering e-mails and calls from some clients, I noticed that there is some problem with time. I looked at the clock in my office and it was one hour fast. I looked at my computer’s clock and it was one hour fast. Then I looked at my watch and at the clock of my cell phone; both of them displayed the same time so I resumed my work believing that someone must have missed with the clocks in my office and computer. As I resumed my work, my suspicions grew stronger because, again, I was at odds with clients concerning time. For a moment, I got the impression that every one was tired and impatiently waiting for the lunch break as they kept advancing time by an hour.

    I did not realize what was going on till the lunch beak when my colleagues flocked to my office to check on me. Only then did I realize that the Moroccan government has adopted the so-called Daylight Saving Time.

  • Kamal’s story deserves a prize:

    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/940949/sunset_in_morocco/

  • Hi there:
    I’m writing from Peru.
    Some time ago, our government tried to do the same thing: DST. And just as in Morocco, everyone had two times in their heads: the clock time and the solar time.
    This went on for two summers (which here is from january to March), and then it was forgotten. There was no real difference but lots of confusion. No savings, by the way, because here the sunlight goes away at about 6:30 pm… all year through.

  • @ Jala Nali: Global Voices is not intended to be journalism. It is citizen journalism, and the bloggers whom I quoted were telling one side of the story. I am happy to clarify in this comment, however, that Morocco is following DST on an official level, and that, to the best of my knowledge, people in urban areas are following the time, regardless of their opinion of it.

  • @ Kamal: Thank you for sharing your story. It also goes to to show that it isn’t only rural Moroccans struggling with this time change. Although Jala Nali does make a point that my story appears biased, I think your story shows that the Moroccan government has perhaps failed in informing its citizens of the new time change. Thanks again for reading, and for sharing.

  • Gabriella Kadar

    We, in Canada, ended up having our detested (by me at least) daylight savings time moved to a much earlier date in accordance with Bush U.S. policy. Living in a more northerly latitude means that by the time the new ‘spring forward’ time change happens, those of us who get out of bed at 6 a.m. see light in the sky. We feel very strongly that we have ‘earned’ this beautiful experience and have somehow managed to stave off the depression caused by chronic sunlight deprivation.

    Then, suddenly, because a ridiculous moron in the American administration has speculated that moving the clock forward would result in capitalist profiteering due to an extra hour of light at the end of the day (since it would seem no one shops in the morning), 6 a.m. becomes, once again, a dark time of the day.

    Contrary to the alleged potentially salubrious effect of this actually nasty time change, I, for one, am thrown into a dispute with my brain: I categorically refuse to purchase anything whatsoever for the six weeks between the new ‘spring forward’ time and the old ‘spring forward’ time other than red wine and groceries.

    It would be a good thing to leave clocks alone. Fooling around with wake and sleep cycles only enriches BigPharma. :(

  • @Gabriella – I sympathize. I now live in Boston, also pretty far north, and I found the first month of DST this year to be very upsetting. I’ve always liked the concept in general, but Bush’s decision upset me.

  • This was originally to help the farmers work with light as they went about the duties on the farms – my understanding – but if is saves in any way on energy costs and usages – it seems like a good effort. The needs have changed.

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