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Morocco: Resisting Daylight Savings

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Morocco, Economics & Business, Environment, Religion

The modern concept of Daylight Savings Time [1] was conceived by William Willett [2] in 1905 and was first initiated by Germany in 1916. Most of the world does not participate in Daylight Savings Time [1], and until recently, Morocco was no exception. This year, however, the Moroccan government decided to re-introduce [3] DST.

Margot the Marrakesh Mystic explains the situation [4]:

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 [5]:

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 [6] 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 [7]:

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 [8]:

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