Saudi Arabia has declared that Eid Al Fitr will begin on Friday, April 21, after experts sighted the new moon, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.
The announcement was made Thursday evening, April 20, by the kingdom’s Supreme Court calling for people to head out to try to sight the moon from Thursday evening.
Experts gathered at Sudair and Tamir astronomical observatories in the kingdom at around 5 pm on Thursday evening to set up telescopes and sighting equipment to look for the moon.
The UAE and Egypt also declared the start of Eid Al Fitr from Friday.
Saudi Arabia’s International Astronomy Centre said countries that are satisfied with mathematical calculations of lunar cycles and do not require a specific sighting of the crescent moon could follow the kingdom in holding Eid on Friday even if unfavourable conditions meant it was not visible in person.
Those that required a physical sighting of the crescent moon could wait until Saturday, it said.
The sighting of the moon signifies that the Eid Al Fitr celebrations will begin the following day.
Astronomer Muhammad Al Thaqafi said that astronomical data had shown Friday would be the first day of Eid Al Fitr however others had said the moon wouldn’t be visible until Friday making Saturday the start.
Ramadan lasts for either 29 or 30 days depending on when the crescent moon is sighted because the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle.