This summer, the world’s largest clock began its first official duty: marking time during Ramadan in Mecca—Islam’s holiest city. This colossal clock bears a striking resemblance to Big Ben, and the tower that hosts it (courtesy of the Canadian-based Fairmont hotel operation) is six times taller than the British landmark, making it the second tallest building in the world, visible for 16 miles.
All well and good. One can marvel at human ingenuity and move on. However, what makes this case interesting is the fact that after the inauguration of the clock, there were calls from many Muslims to replace Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)—the world standard for 125 years—with Mecca Time. Some have argued that GMT is the remnant of a colonial heritage, and it is time to turn over a new page.