Mecca's clock calls time on Big Ben
Published 12/08/2010 | 05:00
FOR more than a century, a point on the top of a hill in south-east London has been recognised as the centre of world time and the official starting point of each new day.
But now the supremacy of Greenwich Mean Time is being challenged by a gargantuan new clock being built in Mecca, by which the world's 1.5 billion Muslims could soon be setting their watches.
Due to start ticking today as the faithful begin fasting during Ramadan, the timepiece sits on top of the Royal Mecca Clock Tower which dominates Islam's holiest city.
It is at the heart of a vast complex funded by the Saudi government that will also house hotels, shopping centres and conference halls.
Bearing a striking resemblance to St Stephen's Tower, which houses the bell of Big Ben, and the Empire State Building, the Saudi clock aims to outdo its British rival.
Its four faces are 151ft in diameter and will be illuminated by two million LED lights along with large Arabic script reading: "In the name of Allah."
The giant clock will run on Arabia Standard Time which is three hours ahead of GMT.
The residents of Mecca will also be reminded that it is time for prayer when 21,000 green and white lights, visible from a distance of 18 miles, flash five times a day. (© Daily Telegraph, London)