UAE orders formation of Ramadan moon sighting committee

The holy month is expected to begin on Wednesday or Thursday



The UAE’s minister of justice has ordered the establishment of a moon sighting committee to declare the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

State news agency WAM confirmed the move in a brief statement.

The committee is set to meet after prayers on the evening of Tuesday, May 15, at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, WAM said.

Its members will include president of the Federal Supreme Court Yousif Saeed Al Abri, acting undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department Dr Farooq Hamadeh and the religious counsellor of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court Mohammed Jowan Al Muhairi.

“The resolution stipulates that all Shariah courts in the state shall investigate the vision and provide the committee with evidence,” according to a statement.

Based on these findings, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department will decide when the holy month begins.

Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court also made a similar announcement on Sunday, calling for worshipers to look to the skies on Tuesday evening to spot the Ramadan crescent.

Read: Saudi Supreme Court asks Muslims to spot Ramadan crescent

Should the crescent be spotted on Tuesday, it will mean Wednesday is the first day of Ramadan.

This is because 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 Sunday that the holy month would fall on Thursday, May 17 due to concerns the moon would not be visible nationwide on Tuesday evening the next week.

Read: Oman announces Ramadan start date

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.

Read: Ramadan likely to begin on May 17

Last week, Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority announced shorter school hours for the holy month with students finishing classes by 1:30pm.

Read: Dubai announces shorter school hours for Ramadan

A similar announcement was made by the UAE Federal Authority for Government Human Resources (FAHR) regarding public sector working hours. Staff will work from 9:00am to 2:00pm during the Ramadan period.

Read: UAE authority announces Ramadan work hours

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia’s General Council of Senior Scholars called on Muslims to perform charitable acts during the holy month and read the Koran.