When is Ramadan 2022 in the UAE?

Holy month will also fall within the busy tourist season

Verses from the Quran decorate the Musawi Grand Mosque in Basra, Iraq. Photo: AFP

This year will mark the third Ramadan since the coronavirus pandemic began.

But when is it? And how is it likely to be different this year?

The National explains.

When is it?

The holy month is likely to begin on Saturday, April 2.

But we will have to wait until the new crescent is seen to know the exact date, as the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle. The new moon heralds the start of the ninth month of the calendar, called Ramadan.

The task of spotting it falls to the moon sighting committee – a group of astronomers, court officials and advisers from the country's Islamic authority – which typically convenes after maghrib, or sunset, prayers on the 29th day of Sha’ban, the eighth month, to look for the new crescent moon. If they see it, Ramadan begins the following day. If not, it will start the day after.

The process is repeated around the time of the next new moon. When that is spotted Ramadan ends, and Shawwal, the 10th month, begins.

Ramadan lasts either 29 or 30 days, depending on when the sighting is made.

The first week of Ramadan coincides with the second week of the spring school holidays, between the second and third terms. Once schools reopen, they will operate reduced hours – probably of no more than six hours a day during the remainder of the month.

Ramadan will occur during the tourist season again. Restaurants will likely be able to serve diners without curtains or dividers. Many bars continue to serve liquor, as long as patrons are respectful and entertainment is kept to a minimum.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, which is believed to be when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from both food and drink during the period.

Ramadan is a very religious time, when Muslims strengthen their faith through prayer and increased recitation of the Quran.

The last 10 days of the holy month are the most special, coinciding with Laylat Al Qadr, the night the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.

It is not known when it occurred, but the event is celebrated on the 27th night. The rewards for acts of worship carried out on this night are said to be more than the rewards of 1,000 months of worship.

What obligations do Muslims have during the holy month?

Fasting is mandatory for all Muslims in good health.

Muslims usually perform more charitable acts during the month, and spend more time with loved ones and strengthen their faith. Some may quit habits like drinking coffee and smoking.

Some Muslims will also perform Umrah, an optional pilgrimage to Makkah, the birthplace of the Prophet Mohammed in Saudi Arabia, which can be done at any time of the year, unlike Hajj that has specific dates.

Authorities in Saudi Arabia have confirmed that foreign pilgrims will be allowed to perform Umrah this year. But they must obtain a vaccination certificate issued by the authorities in their country. And that must be attached along with their application.

A 10-day waiting period between two separate Umrah visits has been imposed as part of restrictions to stem the spread of the omicron variant.

Will mosques be open?

Almost certainly. They were closed during Ramadan in 2020, but that was because it fell in the first few months of the pandemic and immunity to the virus was low. Now almost all adults are vaccinated and boosted.

Mosques were open during Ramadan in 2021, but had to be disinfected before and after prayers.

Taraweeh prayers, which are held after isha and count among key optional prayers (sunnah) for Muslims during Ramadan, were conducted under protocols, including capacity limits and mandatory masks.

Worshippers had to also take their own prayer mats and copies of the Quran, and follow social-distancing protocols.

What about iftars?

Families were encouraged not to celebrate in large groups last year due to the risk posed by the spread of Covid.

And there were no tents placed outside mosques to distribute free iftar meals to people in need across all seven emirates. Meals were distributed to workers' accommodation instead.

Authorities will announce any protocols closer to the time, based on the Covid situation in the country.

Updated: January 12th 2022, 8:48 AM