The UAE’s moon-sighting committee will on Thursday night begin looking for the crescent moon to indicate the start Ramadan.
An official told The National on Tuesday that the committee would meet partly through video conference to see the moon and deliberate the start of Ramadan.
State news agency Wam confirmed that the committee, chaired by Sultan Al Badi, Minister of Justice, would meet after maghrib prayers to begin looking.
Sharia courts across the country will also follow up and inform the committee of any sightings.
The Lunar Calendar Committee at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department will also collect evidence and report any findings back to the committee to aid in their decision, Wam reported.
The Islamic or Hijri calendar is determined by moon cycles, which are either 29 or 30 days long.
The presence of a new moon signals the start of a new month.
Thursday is the 29th day of Shaban, the month preceding Ramadan.
If the crescent is seen, Ramadan begins the next day. If not, the committee searches the following night and the holy month will probably begin on Saturday instead.
Each country searches for the new moon differently.
The UAE uses a combination of tradition and science by first finding the new moon with a telescope and then confirming with the naked eye.
This week, the International Astronomical Centre, based in Abu Dhabi, confirmed from an astronomical perspective that Ramadan could not fall on Thursday as first suspected.
Mohammed Odeh, director of the centre, said sighting the moon on Wednesday evening would be “quite impossible”.
Mr Odeh said it could only be seen from Thursday night.
"Hence, the holy month of Ramadan is expected to start on Friday, April 24,” he said.
Other Islamic countries may choose to begin Ramadan on a different date, depending on when their committees see the moon.