As Ramadan starts, so does a giant clock in the holy city of Mecca, an
intended challenger to Big Ben and Greenwich Mean Time. When
construction is completed, it will be the largest clock in the world.
Is this, as The Awl's Alex Balk succinctly puts
it, "the next Muslim thing to get upset about?" Let's take a look:
- A Serious Movement The biggest thing here isn't the clock, but the idea behind it, explains Time's Megan Friedman.
"Islamic scholars argue the clock ought to replace Greenwich Mean Time
as the world standard, making Mecca 'the true center of the earth.'" In
fact, some are apparently claiming Mecca is a "'zero-magnetism zone'
due to its alignment with the Magnetic North," though Western
scientists respond that "the Magnetic North Pole is actually a line of
longitude that passes through North and South America." Either way, the
clock, part of a "new government-funded complex featuring shopping and
hotels," says Friedman, "will be a major point of interest for pilgrims
to Mecca," particularly as it "will remind people to pray by flashing
green and white lights that can be seen for 18 miles."
- 'Bears a Resemblance to Big Ben,' observes David Kenner at Foreign Policy. "If Ben was on steroids," he adds.
four faces, each 151 feet in diameter, will be lit with two million LED
lights. It will sit on top of a tower that stretches 1,983 feet in the
air. By comparison, Big Ben's faces are merely 23 feet in diameter, and
its tower is only 316 feet tall. The tower also has some Islamic
touches that are all its own: Arabic script reading "In the Name of
Allah" runs below the clock faces, and white and green lights will
flash during at the top of the clock will flash to signal the five
daily times for prayer in Islam.
- 'Arab Muslims: Time Thieves' Gawker's Richard Lawson
could be mocking the builders or the potential backlash: "Holy
Christmas! Pretty soon we'll all be wearing white dresses and prayin'
- 'Today, the Tiny Clock on Your Wrist,' writes Alex Balk in much the same fashion. "Tomorrow, the world."
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