Ramadan 2024 start date: When is it, working hours and more

Ramadan 2024 is around the corner and, despite being the holiest month for more than 1.9 billion Muslims around the world, the exact day it begins is determined only a night or two in advance.

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which is determined by the Moon phases. This makes each month either 29 or 30 days long and is the reason for the variability as to when the holy month begins.

It is also why Ramadan falls 10 to 12 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar.

The presence of a new Moon signals the start of a new month in the Islamic calendar.

When does Ramadan begin?

While the exact date has yet to be confirmed, an Islamic calendar for 1445 has been released.

From that, an astronomer had told The National it would fall on March 12 but it now looks more likely that March 11 will be the first day of Ramadan.

That is because the UAE’s International Astronomy Centre announced the sighting of the Shaban crescent moon on February 10, marking the 30-day countdown to the month-long fast.

How is the start of Ramadan determined?

Nezar Sallam, president of the Emirates Mobile Observatory, assists the Moon-sighting committee ahead of a previous Ramadan. Delores Johnson / The National

According to tradition, Ramadan begins the morning after the new Moon is seen.

Sharia courts nationwide will follow up and inform the committee of any sightings, while the Lunar Calendar Committee at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department will look for evidence and inform the Moon-sighting committee of the findings.

Moon-sighting attempts are typically held across the UAE but not all manage to spot the crescent.

It is the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department that decides after collecting reports from across the country.

Typically, Saudi Arabia leads the way in announcing the start and end of Ramadan in the region but each country has its committee to confirm the presence of the new Moon.

What is the Moon-sighting committee?

Abu Dhabi prayer times during Ramadan 2024

Deduct about four minutes for Dubai, Sharjah, and Ajman. Deduct eight minutes for RAK and UAQ, and 10 minutes for Fujairah

The Moon-sighting committee is a group of astronomers, court officials, and advisers from the country’s Islamic authority that is formed and typically chaired by the Minister of Justice.

They meet after maghrib or sunset, prayers on the 29th day of Shaban to look for the new crescent moon. If they see it, Ramadan begins the following day. If not, it will start the day after that.

Each year, the exact date when Ramadan starts is known only once the new crescent is seen.

The process is repeated around the time of the next new Moon. When that is spotted, Ramadan ends and Shawwal begins.

The UAE Moon-sighting committee will meet after sunset on the 29th day of Shaban to determine when Ramadan begins. Photo: International Astronomical Centre

When is Eid Al Fitr?

Otherwise known as the Holiday of Breaking the Fast, Eid Al Fitr follows Ramadan directly.

It is most likely to fall on April 10 this year. If this comes to pass, public holidays will be in place for the private and public sectors from April 9 to April 12.

Eid Al Fitr holidays are granted from Ramadan 29 to Shawwal 3 in the Islamic calendar, with the exact dates announced according to relevant Moon sightings.

Opening hours

Malls tend to extend their opening hours during Ramadan, to allow later evenings and accommodate those fasting.

Supermarkets and grocery shops are open as normal.

Some restaurants may change their opening hours to respect those fasting, so it is wise to check beforehand.

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