I know exactly this hour in which each of us remembers his wristwatch. I mean those who do not get their cellular phones out of their pockets to check the time when someone asks what time it is and who actually lift their hand towards their eyes before they respond in an accurate manner that we do not often see when it comes to a question asked by a stranger in a rush.
I am not obsessed with watches but I am still loyal to the watch as it’s the remains of a habit. Many men and women differ in terms of wearing watches as it’s a remnant of taste, and the interest in specific details also differs. It’s rare to see a businessman who is over 50 years old without noticing the watch that he decorates his wrist with!
Did he inherit it? It may be a limited edition that you may not see again. Or does he want to say through the numbers that only shine bright when he – and only he – looks at it that he is stingy and refuses to participate or give even before the meeting begins? Or is he an ambitious man in his 30s who hails from the generation of technology and who’s capable of managing the office via a watch on his wrist?
I was in London when a Jordanian friend summed up the discussion and said: “You know we have rare resources in Jordan. We have relied on the daylight saving time since the 1980s to co-exist with the fact that we are a non-oil producing state. In 2010 alone, we saved more than $45 million from the time difference of the hourTurki Aldakhil
You may find someone wearing a watch that’s worth five times his salary as he competes to catch up with industry trends or because he is convinced that the best way to present himself is what he wears!
Saving time to save money
Unfortunately, this is not the hour I am talking about. Two weeks ago, the conversation I’ve frequently heard about on the same topic on the same usual date but across different continents. From those who are angry and resentful that the government is even controlling the citizen’s wristwatch, all the way to the environmental activists who are joyful due to the quantity of energy that can be saved when people are forced to pay attention to increasing energy consumption, even if this leads to the law’s intervention in the redistribution of sunrays in daylight hours.
I was in London when a Jordanian friend summed up the discussion and said: “You know we have rare resources in Jordan. We have relied on the daylight saving time since the 1980s to co-exist with the fact that we are a non-oil producing state. In 2010 alone, we saved more than $45 million from the time difference of the hour which people here have annoyed us about.” I laughed at his annoyance, looked at my wristwatch as I smiled and bid him farewell.
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“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise,” is not Benjamin Franklin’s most famous quotes when it comes to clocks skipping forward or going backward for one hour. However, all narratives agree that the time skipping forward for one hour during the summer made him very sleepless.
Franklin is the man with the elegant belly on the American dollar. Perhaps the source of elegance here is the value of the dollar and not his belly. Franklin lived for a while in Paris and wrote an anonymous letter suggesting that the French reduce consumption of candles at night by waking up early to make use of daylight.
Personally, I cannot say this story is false as I am aware that during his early years, Franklin used to write using a pseudonym in the American press before he began working as a diplomat to improve relations with Paris.
What’s interesting is that the pseudonym he used in the US to sign his articles with was Silence Dogood. This was before he became the victim of the French’s mockery as they ridiculed his seriousness about daylight saving and made up jokes after he advised them to make use of it. The jokes proposed solutions which, if anything, reflect how unserious they were in receiving that advice and they ranged from rationing the use of candles to imposing tax on whoever closes their windows to prevent the sunrays from accessing the house, to firing cannons at sunrise and ringing church bells to wake up the extravagant lazy ones.
The early bird catches the worm
Back to Franklin’s approach of linking success to waking up early, a maker of success and hope in the Arab world, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum said: “You have two choices every morning: to keep sleeping and resume your dreams or wake up and pursue them.” Therefore, I think the Emiratis, whom I have lived among for around two decades, believe that a characteristic of a successful man is to wake up early.
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What’s more interesting is that Germany and its allies were the first to adopt the daylight saving time, and it happened on April 16, 1916. The decision was purely economic as our Jordanian friend in London said. The change which the most famous American legislator and president later proposed and which the grandparents of the French revolution mocked only required Germany’s need to preserve coal during World War I to be pursued!
Britain followed suit and imposed the idea on British colonies. Then daylight saving time was adopted in the US in the summer of 1918. Ever since, daylight saving – and not winter time because it’s going back to the standard time and the global time – is viewed as an economic plan and a genius system to reduce the energy bill. This is in addition to its positive influence on the social and economic levels especially for non-oil producing states.
I am not exaggerating when I say that the decision to advance our wristwatches one hour has resulted in a heated debate that has lasted for years. This debate is for instance still ongoing in the EU. A month ago, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker defended the idea to cancel changing the clocks twice per year in winter and summer while leaving the option to let each EU member state to have its own decision regarding this.
Eighty eight countries advance the clocks forward every year for economic reasons and sometimes for environmental ones. What’s strange is that this change – that seems linked to industrial and non-oil producing states – does not include Japan although an important study held there in 2004 concluded that the direct effect of implementing the daylight saving time is equal to preserving energy that would be used by the whole country watching television on a daily basis for 66 days!
What’s even more interesting is that the conversation regarding daylight saving becomes really serious when we realize it’s a completely sovereign right – sovereign in a way that sometimes allows regions to decide on it as for example South Brazil is different than North Brazil. We must note that the continents of Africa and Asia, especially zones crossed by the equator, enjoy the stability of hours, which relieves them from the debate about this hour which saves millions, and which keeps politicians, intellectuals and our friends who are very concerned with climate change up.
Advance your clocks forward or revert them, what’s more important is to enjoy your time and save energy consumption no matter what the price of the hand watch you’re wearing is.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.