x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

If this is Tuesday ...

Samoa's decision to re-draw the International Date Line, to jump one day into the future, reminds us that no matter what you do, you can't stop the hands of time.

Samoa's plan to move back to the future raises some interesting questions. Will tenants, for example, be given a rent rebate for the lost day?

The South Pacific country - two main islands plus eight specks of land, with a total area only slightly larger than Sharjah - has decided to leap across the International Date Line, that magnificent if confusing fiction which allows the global time zone system to make sense. No date has been set for the change, but suddenly, someday, today will become yesterday for the 180,000 Samoans.

Of course it's really the date line which is moving, being redrawn on the other side of Samoa. This change is a move "back" to the future in the sense that 119 years ago Samoa shifted in the opposite direction.

That move, like this one, was intended to improve connections with trading partners. Back in 1892 Samoans sold their coconuts and copra mainly to the United States, far to the eastward. Nowadays the country's business and trade connections are principally with Australia and New Zealand, so sharing the workdays of those countries makes more sense.

The lesson the world can draw from this, we suppose, is that no matter how much you fool with the clocks, change will not be stopped. Time's arrow points in only one direction. For better or worse, you just can't stop progress.