UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has ordered the released of 935 prisoners for Ramadan.
State news agency WAM said the group “have been sentenced in various cases”.
“The release of prisoners comes within the framework of his highness the president’s keenness to give them the opportunity to start a new life and alleviate the suffering of their families,” it added.
Mass prisoner pardons have become a common practice by rulers in the Gulf Cooperation Council at the start of the holy month, which is intended to be a time of generosity and charitable giving.
Similar announcements are expected from the ruler’s of the UAE’s emirates.
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.
The committee is set to meet after prayers on the evening of Tuesday, May 15, at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, WAM said.
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 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.
Last week, Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority announced shorter school hours for the holy month with students finishing classes by 1:30pm.
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.
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.