Today, I am supposed to write about religion as I did in the previous years during Ramadan. But as I found something interesting like the topic I unintentionally found on the MetroTV’s website, I am sorry to say that I have to interrupt it with the issue like this, the big clock in Mecca, Saudi Arabia and the intention of the Saudis (and the Muslims worldwide??) to shift the zero meridian currently coincides on the meridian passing through Greenwich which is part of the Greater London in the UK to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. As we have already known that the Saudis are constructing the biggest clock in the world in a tower called Mecca Royal Clock Hotel Tower or Abraj Al Bait Towers. The tower itself was planned to stand as tall as about 600 metres (about 1,970 feet). The clock will belittle the world’s former biggest tower clock, the famous picturesque Big Ben in London, The UK. The tower is said to be completed in autumn 2011.
What really attracted my attention was not the construction of the clock itself, it was the plan to move UTC, or the Coordinated Universal Time, the new term to replace the GMT, from Greenwich to Mecca, as it is reported by the MetroTV’s site. I cannot stop wondering is it urgent to move the zero meridian to Mecca just because they build the world’s biggest clock?? Is that a good reason to move the zero Meridian to Mecca? If they want to build a gigantic clock that stands more than half a kilo towering over other skyscrapers I don’t mind. It is even good for their esteem. It does not give rise to troubles for millions or even billions of people outside Saudi Arabia. But to set a new zero meridian is a completely new story. It will involve concerns of billions of people around the globe and it will affect almost every nook and cranny of the aspects of humanity concerning time. Don’t they realise how much money will be spent on altering computer programs and computer systems worldwide just to adjust to the new meridian?? How many billions of dollars must be spent on republishing new printouts or to change hoardings and timetables worldwide to concur with the new standard time?? For me, it is unreasonable, at least for now, to shift the zero meridian from Greenwich to Mecca, I cannot see any urgent reasons to set a new standard international time.
Unless the Saudis can come up with something more reasonable or they can create a totally new timekeeping system which is more accurate than the current timekeeping system that we don’t have to be bothered by the future discrepancy between the rotation of the earth and our present 24-hour timekeeping system, it is not urgent to move UTC 40 degrees curvilinearly away from its current location. I’m sorry to say that I suspect that it is just a matter of the Saudis’ esteem. But in my humble opinion, if it is so, I believe there are many other ways to build the esteem more reasonably. Like, to start with, they can unemploy the Swiss and the German engineers who build the giant clocks and replace them with the home-grown Saudi engineers. So the giant clock will be built on the Saudi technical know-how and they are not dependent much on foreign engineers. I think this kind of self-esteem is more worthy of respect than just building a giant clock and move the zero meridian to their land that will cause troubles for billions worldwide.
What about you guys?? Do you share the same view with me?? 😉
For comparison, Big Ben’s height is only about 96 metres, whilst the “Jam Gadang” of Bukittinggi stands only 26 metres dwarfish. 😉