UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qassimi have ordered the release of more than 1,000 prisoners ahead of Ramadan.
Dubai Media Office described the 700 prisoners released by Sheikh Mohammed as being “from different nationalities” in a brief tweet. UAE state news agency WAM said they were being held in correctional and penitentiary institutions.
The 302 inmates released by Sheikh Saud have received final verdicts from the emirate’s courts and had any dues paid.
The gesture is intended to allow them the “opportunity to reintegrate into the fabric of society” and bring joy to their families during the holy month, WAM said.
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.
On Monday, UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan also ordered the release of 935 prisoners for Ramadan.
The UAE’s moon sighting committee is due to meet after evening prayers tonight to determine the start of the holy month.
Should the crescent be spotted on Tuesday, it will mean Wednesday is the first day of Ramadan.
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.
The UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation said earlier on Tuesday that private sector working hours would be reduced by two hours for the holy month.