x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Ramadan begins on Monday, committee confirms

Several faithful trekked up Jebel Hafeet to see if they could spy the moon last night, but a late sunset obscured the view.

Astronomer Nezar Hezam Sallam aligns his telescope on the eve of the start of Ramadan. Sammy Dallal / The National
Astronomer Nezar Hezam Sallam aligns his telescope on the eve of the start of Ramadan. Sammy Dallal / The National

ABU DHABI // Tomorrow will be the first day of Ramadan, the state news agency Wam reported last night.

"The moon-sighting committee has announced that Sunday [today] will be the 30th of Sha'aban. The first day of the holy month of Ramadan will be Monday …" it reported.

Nazer Sallam, 31, a Yemeni-born amateur astronomer, had already reached that conclusion.

With his 14-inch telescope, Mr Sallam was one of many with an eye trained on the horizon for any sign of the crescent moon last night.

Although most experts agreed the moon would not be seen until this evening's sunset, he took his equipment to the peak of Jebel Hafeet, Al Ain, to take part in the annual ritual.

"Today? No way. Forget about it," said Mr Sallam. "Tomorrow it should be easy to spot, although perhaps not with the naked eye."

Tradition holds that Ramadan begins the morning after the new moon is seen.

Mr Sallam is the creator and owner of the UAE's first mobile observatory.

He took a large TV in his van to show a crowd of family and friends why it would be impossible to see the moon - because it set before the sun.

Mr Sallam also fixed the largest of his telescopes to his observatory and two smaller telescopes were set up nearby for anyone to look through.

It was the first visit to Jebel Hafeet for Abdulrahman Mohammed, 45, of Ras Al Khaimah, who wanted to be among the first to see the new moon.

"We came here just in case," said Mr Mohammed, an Emirati.

 

zalhassani@thenational.ae