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

Start of holy month will be determined by Moon-sighting committee

Spotting a new crescent moon indicates the beginning of Ramadan. Pawan Singh / The National
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BREAKING: Ramadan 2024 to start on Monday

Ramadan 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 determined only a night or two in advance.

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, which is determined by 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 in the UAE has been released.

From that, an astronomer had told The National Ramadan would probably fall on March 12 but it may also begin on March 11.

The start of Ramadan will depend on how long the month of Shaban lasts – 29 or 30 days. The UAE’s International Astronomy Centre announced the sighting of the Shaban crescent moon on February 10.

How is the start of Ramadan determined?

According to tradition, Ramadan begins once the new Moon is seen. Fasting begins the following sunrise.

Sharia courts nationwide will follow up and inform the committee of any sightings, while the Lunar Calendar Committee at 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 makes the decision 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 own committee to confirm the presence of the new Moon.

What is the Moon-sighting committee?

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, fasting 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.

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 sector 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.

The exact date will depend on when Ramadan begins and if the month lasts 29 or 30 days.

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.


Paid parking hours change across the emirates during Ramadan.

Information on times and payment will be displayed on parking meters in different areas.

Details for each emirate will be announced closer to the time.

What counts as breaking the fast?

There are valid exceptions to fasting during Ramadan, for healthy Muslims.

These include if a person unintentionally eats or drinks while fasting, if a person is suffering from an illness or if a woman is pregnant or menstruating.

For more detail on what may or may not invalidate a fast during Ramadan, Hussein Al Ahdal, Grand Mufti at Dubai's Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, clarified specifics here.

Updated: March 10, 2024, 3:48 PM