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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is set to usher in Ramadan’s month-long journey of spiritual devotion, fasting and community on Monday after an official sighting of the new crescent moon in Hawtat Sudair.

The sighting by astronomers from the Majmaah University Astronomy Observatory Department in Riyadh signalled the start of the holy month for most of the almost 2 billion Muslims across the globe.

This significant event was led by prominent Saudi astronomer Abdullah Al-Khudairi, director of the Astronomy Observatory in Sudair.

The Saudi Supreme Court announced that Monday, March 11, will be the first day of Ramadan.

Joining Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE have also confirmed that Ramadan will begin on Monday, with Oman, Pakistan, Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Brunei and Iran to follow a day later.

The determination of the starting date relies on both lunar calculations and physical sightings of the new moon, a practice steeped in Islamic tradition.

Al-Khudairi said: “Calculation and technology are complementing the sighting process. I say that the astronomical calculations and the naked eye sighting, like the human’s eyes, they need one another.”

Looking ahead, Majmaah University revealed plans to enhance its facilities and increase its team to further streamline the moon-sighting process.

Mohammed Al-Shehri, deputy director for postgraduate and scientific research at the university, said: “We have our strategic plans that we are going to expand our facilities, our tools, our manpower here (Hawtat Sudair).”

He added: “We want to build a big building here. It will be the center for Majmaah for seeing the moon.”

The decision regarding the start of Ramadan holds significant religious and cultural importance for Muslims around the world.

One of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is observed with acts of fasting, prayer and charity as a time of spiritual devotion and self-discipline.

From dawn until sunset, Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and other physical needs as a demonstration of worship and obedience to the Almighty Allah.

Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and is obligatory for all adult Muslims, with exceptions for those who are ill, elderly, pregnant, nursing, menstruating or traveling. It serves as a time for reflection not only for Muslims but also for people of all faiths, fostering understanding and mutual respect across diverse geographies, cultures and communities.

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