Saudi Arabia seeks Muslim alternative to GMT

Launch of clock tower to encourage Muslims to reset watches to ‘Makkah time'.
Saudi Arabia seeks Muslim alternative to GMT
MAKKAH TIME: The under construction clock tower rises above the Holy City in Saudi Arabia. (Getty Images)
By Ed Attwood
Tue 10 Aug 2010 11:10 AM

The launch of the giant new clock tower in Makkah could establish the site as alternative time zone to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for the world’s Muslims.

Saudi Arabia is hoping that the landmark project will encourage Muslims to set their watches to the time shown on the faces that sit more than 400m over the Holy Haram courtyard of Islam’s holiest site, AFP has reported.

The clock, which sits in a tower that will be the world’s second highest building on completion, has four faces of high-tech composite tiles, each more than 46 metres across. Each face is six times larger in diameter than London’s Big Ben.

It is set to enter service with a three-month trial period during the first week of Ramadan, the Saudi Press Agency has said.

Around 250 workers are completing welding work on the clock’s frame.

Around two million LED lights will light the phrase ‘In the Name of Allah” in Arabic on the clock faces, and some 21,000 flashing green and white coloured lights will be visible from as far as 30 kilometres away, to signal prayer-times.

On special occasions, 16 vertical flashlights will be sent 10 kilometres into the sky.

"Everyone is interested to see the clock, despite the lack of sufficient information about it, and its mechanism," Makkah resident Hani al-Wajeeh told AFP.

"We in Makkah hope to be the world's central time zone, and not just have a clock to look at, to show off," he said.

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