The UAE’s moon sighting commitee has announced that Thursday, May 17 will be the first day of Ramadan.
Abu Dhabi Judicial Department officials met after prayers on Tuesday to sight the holy month’s moon crescent under orders from the minister of justice.
State news agency WAM announced their determination that the eighth Islamic month of Sha’ban would continue until Wednesday, meaning Ramadan would start on Thursday.
— وكالة أنباء الإمارات (@wamnews) May 15, 2018
“After investigation and following the legal ways of proof and communications with neighboring countries, where the holy month’s crescent moon was not sighted tonight, it has been decided that tomorrow, Wednesday, completes the month of Sha’ban and Thursday is the first day of Ramadan,” justice minister Sultan bin Saeed Al Badi Al Dhaheri said.
Moon sighting authorities in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia made similar announcements.
Saudi Press Agency confirmed the decision of the country’s Supreme Court on Twitter.
— واس (@spagov) May 15, 2018
Both public and private sector staff will work shorter days for the duration of Ramadan as many employees are fasting.
The UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said on Tuesday that private sector establishments, institutions and companies would have to reduce normal work by two hours for the holy month.
The Federal Authority for Government Human Resources announced public sector working hours will be 9:00am to 2:00pm.
Schools hours will also be shorter and there are restrictions on eating and drinking in public and some workplaces during the daytime.
Times for public transport, parking and other services will vary.
The Gulf countries decide the beginning of Ramadan based on the Islamic calendar, which is linked to the moon’s 29 and a half-day monthly cycle.
Islamic months can be 29 or 30 days based on the appearance of the moon crescent at night.
Oman was the first country in the Gulf to announce when it will mark the beginning of Ramadan.
The sultanate’s Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs said last Monday that the holy month would fall on Thursday, May 17 due to concerns the moon would not be visible nationwide on Tuesday evening next week.
Astronomers in Kuwait and Sharjah have also indicated May 17 will be the likely start date for the month of Ramadan.
In March, Sharjah Centre for Astronomy and Space Sciences said Ramadan would likely fall on May 17 with Eid Al Fitr, marking the end of the month, expected on June 15.