Last week in Amman, the Jordanian Cabinet reversed a decision to switch to wintertime, sticking with daylight saving time for the entire year. Our extended daylight hours are good for the environment (and coveted by many Israeli neighbors), but the late decision is causing logistical headaches.
This is a late-breaking flip-flop. Previously, in mid-October, the same Cabinet had issued instructions that clocks should be set back 60 minutes for wintertime as of Friday, October 26, as had been the national habit for years past. No explanation was given for the sudden decision, which moves Jordan into a different time zone.
Coming home from school and work in slowly ebbing daylight beats a darkened commute. It makes for safer travel, there are fewer lightbulb-burning hours, and who doesn’t love staying in bed that extra hour? But this decision seems arbitrary, capricious and with mysterious motivation.
The world is divided into 24 time zones, each measured by its difference from mean time in Greenwich, England. Jordan now joins the “Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)+3” zone which includes Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Yemen. The kingdom had previously been part of the GMT+2 zone, along with Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey and Egypt.
Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Samih Maaytah told The Jordan Times that the government coordinated with Royal Jordanian (RJ) and other airlines before agreeing the change. RJ, in turn, notified ticketed passengers traveling between October 26 and next March 30, advising them to add one hour to the departure/arrival times listed on their tickets for travel from/to Jordanian airports. Passengers were urged to visit the RJ website, but advisory aside, some botched travel plans are sure to result.
Non-flyers are also aggrieved. The Amman time zone that’s used on all Jordanian computers, laptops, smartphones and mobiles didn’t take this abrupt Cabinet reversal into consideration: each device had to be switched to winter time automatically by its user.
Introducing individual human behavior to matters as critical as national time is bound to be problematic. Getting back into a work routine is always difficult apres-Eid, but I needed a few more pair of hands to count missed commuter buses and bungled work meetings.
Traveling through Israel en route to Egypt last week was especially confusing: driving through three separate time zones in under an hour. (Israel opted to move in the opposite direction this year, bringing an end to Daylight Savings Time weeks before the USA, Europe and its Middle Eastern neighbors make the change.)
Image of sun over Amman’s Citadel by Shutterstock