Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Saudis hope giant clock will set 'Mecca Time' - Yahoo! News

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100810/wl_mideast_afp/saudireligionmeccaconstructiontime

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (AFP) – Muslims around the world could be setting their watches to a new time soon when the world's largest clock begins ticking atop a soaring skyscraper in Islam's holiest city of Mecca.
Saudi Arabia hopes the four faces of the new clock, which will loom over Mecca's Grand Mosque from what is expected to be the world's second tallest building, will establish Mecca as an alternate time standard to the Greenwich median.
The clock is targeted to enter service with a three-month trial period in the first week of the holy month of Ramadan on or about August 12, according to the Saudi state news agency SPA.
It boasts four glimmering 46 metre-across (151 feet) faces of high-tech composite tiles, some laced with gold, sitting more than 400 metres (1,320 feet) over the Holy Haram compound.
The tower's height will reach 601 metres (1,983 feet), SPA said. On its website, Premiere Composite, which is responsible for cladding the top section -- including a shimmering spire topped by a golden crescent moon -- puts the planned height at 590 metres (1,947 feet).
That would make it the world's second tallest building -- ahead of Taiwan's 509 metre (1,670 feet) Taipei 101, but well behind the Burj Khalifa, the 828 metre (2,717 feet) skyscraper inaugurated in Dubai in January.

"Everyone is interested to see the clock, despite the lack of sufficient information about it, and its mechanism," said Mecca resident Hani al-Wajeeh.
"We in Mecca hope to be the world's central time zone, and not just have a clock to look at, to show off," he said.
The developer of the massive seven-tower Abraj al-Bait complex had kept the details of the clock a secret, but it is visibly in place now, adorned with the green crossed sword and palm symbol of the Saudi state.
Mohammed al-Arkubi, the manager of the Royal Mecca Clock Tower Hotel in the building below, said the installation of the clock, its faces made by the German-owned Dubai company, Premiere Composite Technologies, has been "a huge operation."
The clock reflects a goal by some Muslims to replace the 126-year-old Universal Time standard -- originally called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) -- with Mecca mean time.
At a conference in Doha in 2008, Muslim clerics and scholars presented "scientific" arguments that Mecca time is the true global meridian. They said that Mecca is the centre of the world and that the Greenwich standard was imposed by the west in 1884.
Big does not begin to describe the Abraj al-Bait complex just across the street from the south gate of the Grand Mosque, the Muslim world's most sacred site.
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