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Mecca clock to ‘outdo’ GMT

Aug. 11: For more than a century, a point on the top of a hill in southeast 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 tomorrow as the faithful begin fasting during Ramazan, the timepiece sits atop 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 malls and conference halls.

Bearing a striking resemblance to both St Stephen’s Tower, which houses the bell of Big Ben, and the Empire State Building, the Saudi upstart aims to outdo its revered British rival in every way.

The clock’s four faces are 151 feet in diameter and will be illuminated by 2 million LED lights along with huge Arabic script reading: “In the name of Allah”. The clock will run on Arabia Standard Time which is three hours ahead of GMT.

When a glittering spire is added, topped with a crescent to symbolise Islam, the edifice will stand at nearly 2,000 feet, making it the world’s second tallest building.

The clock of Big Ben, by comparison, is just 23 feet in diameter, while its tower stands at a mere 316 feet.

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