UAE mosques prepare to open for Friday prayers – in pictures

Worshippers must bring their own Quran and prayer mat, perform ablutions at home and services will last 10 minutes

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Mosques across the UAE have been preparing to receive worshippers for the first Friday prayers in nine months.

Short daily services resumed in July but mosques remained closed on Fridays, when large numbers of worshippers gather, owing to the pandemic.

Capacity has been capped at 30 per cent and worshippers are required to maintain a two-metre distance from each other, bring their own Quran and prayer mat and perform ablutions at home.

Imams said worshippers were excited to return. During Thursday evening prayers imams will remind the faithful to adhere to the rules for their own safety.

“People are very happy about being able to pray at the mosque again for Friday prayers. They have been waiting for almost nine months," said Dr Fares Al Mustafa, an imam at Al Farooq Omar bin Al Khattab Mosque and Centre in Dubai.

“We are encouraging everyone to be safe and follow the guidelines that have been issued by authorities. They should wear their masks and maintain social distancing.”

Dr Al Mustafa said he expected about 400 to 500 people at the mosque on Friday, about half the number that came before the closure in March.

Mohammedullah Moin, the imam of Ali Salem Al Kaabi Mosque in Abu Dhabi, urged all worshippers to be careful.

His mosque would normally have the capacity to host 250 people for Friday prayers.

"They are so happy and excited that they'll be praying at the mosque for Friday prayers after so long," said Mr Moin.

"We did get a message from Awqaf [the General Authority of Islamic Affairs] to announce the Friday prayer guidelines during today's maghrib [evening prayer] and isha [night prayer]."

The prayer will last 10 minutes, instead of 30 minutes. Children are not allowed inside mosques.

Mosques will not be allowed to distribute lunch boxes after the prayer.

The country has steadily reopened most public spaces in recent months.

Most churches and temples have also reopened and weddings are allowed in places of worship, hotels or private venues, although there are restrictions on the number of guests.

The mandatory use of masks in public remains, unless you are dining, at the beach or exercising.

Another 1,317 cases of Covid-19 were reported throughout the Emirates on Thursday, taking the number of infections to 172,751.

The cases were detected after another 132,380 tests were carried out.