Saudi Arabia declares Eid Al Fitr will start Friday after moon sighted

The kingdom said that countries could follow their declaration even if they couldn’t physically see the moon

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Saudi Arabia has declared that Eid Al Fitr will begin on Friday after experts sighted the new moon, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.

The announcement on Thursday evening was made by the kingdom's Supreme Court calling for people to head out to try to sight the moon from Thursday evening.

Experts gathered at Sudair and Tamir astronomical observatories in the kingdom at around 5 pm on Thursday evening to set up telescopes and sighting equipment to look for the moon.

The UAE and Egypt also declared the start of Eid Al Fitr from Friday.

Saudi Arabia's International Astronomy Centre said countries that are satisfied with mathematical calculations of lunar cycles and do not require a specific sighting of the crescent moon could follow the kingdom in holding Eid on Friday even if unfavourable conditions meant it was not visible in person.

Those that required a physical sighting of the crescent moon could wait until Saturday, it said.

Aerial views of Makkah at night before Eid - in pictures

The sighting of the moon signifies that the Eid Al Fitr celebrations will begin the following day.

Astronomer Muhammad Al Thaqafi said that astronomical data had shown Friday would be the first day of Eid Al Fitr however others had said the moon wouldn't be visible until Friday making Saturday the start.

Ramadan lasts for either 29 or 30 days depending on when the crescent moon is sighted because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle.

Eid is marked by prayers at the mosque after dawn and is traditionally observed by Muslims across the world to mark the end of the Ramadan month of fasting from dawn until dusk.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Islamic Affairs declared 20,700 mosques and outdoor prayer areas in the country ready for Eid Al Fitr prayers.

Typically, families dress up in Eid clothes and have traditional Eid breakfasts with family and friends after morning prayers.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development announced on Monday that public holidays for Eid Al Fitr would officially begin on Friday, April 21.

Muslims follow a lunar calendar, which is made up of 12 months in a year of 354 or 355 days.

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Updated: April 20, 2023, 5:56 PM