Tasked with spotting the new crescent moon that will signal Eid Al Fitr, the UAE's moon-sighting committee has been formed.
On Tuesday, Minister of Justice Sultan Al Badi called for the committee to be formed and hold its first meeting at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department after maghrib prayers on Thursday night – Ramadan 29.
The meeting will be held under the chairmanship of Mr Al Badi along with a number of senior officials, reported state news agency Wam.
The minister also called on all Sharia courts across the country to look out for the new moon and report any sightings to the committee.
Should a crescent moon be spotted on Thursday night, Shawwal 1 will begin on Friday – signalling the first day of Eid Al Fitr. If a new moon is not seen by the committee, Friday will be assumed Ramadan 30 and Eid Al Fitr will begin on Saturday.
The Muslim calendar is determined by moon phases making each month last either 29 or 30 days. Islamic years span on average between 354 and 355 days.
A moon-sighting committee was formed before Ramadan this year. Among the committee members was Dr Ahmad Al Ahdal, senior preacher at Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities in Dubai. He explained the process of moon-sighting in an interview with Abu Dhabi TV.
He said some Islamic countries prefer to use telescopes to sight the moon, while other countries will only call Ramadan if the new moon is spotted with the naked eye.
Dr Al Ahdal said the UAE uses a mixture of traditional and modern methods by first using telescopes to try to spot the new moon, then, should a new moon be seen, increasing efforts to sight the crescent with the naked eye.