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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Giant Saudi clock set to herald "Mecca Time."

As I reported two weeks ago, the new giant clock atop the Saudi Abraj al-Bait Tower is meant to symbolize Islamic attempts to make Mecca the source for the world's time, supplanting Greenwich.

From the Arab News:
Quiz: What's wrong with this picture?
The giant clock of Makkah is all set to tick home a new time standard, as some scholars believe that it will be an ideal alternative to the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).

Many scholars are of the opinion that Makkah Time can provide the world an alternative to the GMT. These people have scientific arguments to back their contention, as Makkah is situated in the center of the world.

At a conference in Doha in 2008, Muslim clerics and scholars presented “scientific” arguments that Makkah time is the true global meridian. They said that Makkah is the center of the world.

“Putting Makkah time in the face of Greenwich Mean Time, this is the goal,” said Mohammed Al-Arkubi, general manager of Royal Makkah Tower Hotel.

The Royal Clock is sitting atop the central tower in the Abraj Al-Bait Project, 50 meters opposite the Grand Mosque in Makkah. The clock will be visible from 17 km away at night and 11 to 12 km away during the day. A German-owned company, Premiere Composite Technologies, has designed the clock.

Sources said that the world’s largest clock — six times larger than London’s Big Ben — will be launched in the first week of Ramadan but no date has yet been fixed. The trial run would be conducted on the clock facing Jeddah that is to be inaugurated first.

The tower featuring the world’s largest clock also includes a Lunar Observation Center and an Islamic Museum. While the Royal Clock will announce daily prayers, the Lunar Observation Center and Islamic Museum will serve to protect the heritage for future generations. The observatory will also be used to sight the moon during the holy months. On special occasions, 16 bands of vertical lights will shoot some 10 km up into the sky.
AP mentions that the giant clock was designed by Swiss and German engineers.

The chances of the world adopting Mecca Time is roughly the same as the chances of it adopting Jerusalem Solar Time and the (pretty complicated) Jewish lunar/solar calendar.