Passengers flying to or from Beirut–Rafic Hariri International Airport (BEY), better double-check their flight times because the airport is currently using two different local times for its operations.
Images and video footage of signage and clocks at Lebanon’s main airport showing two different times have been shared on social media.
At the root of this unusual situation, which affects the whole country and not just the airport, are differing points of view between the country’s religious communities regarding turning the clocks back an hour for daylight savings on March 26, 2023.
The conflict emerged after Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced three days before the scheduled time change that the country would wait until April 21 to implement daylight savings time. While no reason was given for the decision, the move has been seen as support for practicing Muslims in the country because it would allow those fasting during Ramadan (which runs from March to April) to break their fasts an hour earlier.
This unexpected decision was contested by leaders of the country’s other communities who questioned the legality of the decision, claiming that the usual process to gain cabinet approval had not been followed. Unable to find a compromise, the country is now, de facto, in two time zones at the same time.
Middle East Airlines (MEA), Lebanon’s home carrier announced all schedules will be brought forward by one hour but will be returned to their original schedule on April 21. This change only affects departures and arrivals at Beirut airport, flight schedules remain the same for all other international airports the airline flies to.