How the UAE’s new lunar calendar merges the old with the modern

grand mosque at Eid

Following years of intensive research, the UAE has unveiled a new lunar calendar to coincide with the Islamic New Year.

Announced by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, the unified Hijri calendar of 1439 is the result of three years of thorough studies that combine elements of astronomy, science and Sharia principles.

The calendar also made use of aerial, environmental and geographical factors to guide the research.

In contrast to a Gregorian calendar, the Hijri calendar is lunar and follows the movement of the moon to determine the start of each new month. The sighting of the new moon depends on several factors, including the weather and geographic location, meaning the calendar may differ from one Muslim country to another.

A significant tool for Muslims, it also sets the time for two key pillars in Islam – prayer times and fasting during Ramadan – as determined by astronomic and physical calculations.

However, while precise calculations were used, dates, particularly for special Islamic occasions, will still be dependent on the moon- sighting committee.

Following the printing of the new calendar, copies will be distributed across the Emirates.

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