Saudi Arabia announces Ramadan starts Tuesday
Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest shrines, announced that the holy fasting month of Ramadan will start on Tuesday, as Muslims worldwide face coronavirus curbs.
"Tomorrow, Tuesday... is the beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan this year," the kingdom's supreme court said in a royal court statement.
Other Muslim countries, including Sunni-majority Egypt and Lebanon, have also announced that Tuesday marks the start of Ramadan, while Shiite-majority countries like Iran are expected to start a day later.
The daytime fasting month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Observant Muslims refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk, and traditionally gather with family and friends to break their fast in the evening.
It is also a time of prayers, during which Muslims typically converge in large numbers at mosques, especially at night.
But due to Covid-19 pandemic, many Muslim-majority countries have imposed restrictions on worshippers, including night-time curfews, and called for prayers to be performed at home.
"The month of Ramadan is upon us and the world is suffering from the coronavirus pandemic," Saudi King Salman said in a statement released by state television.
"We thank God for the scientific efforts in developing vaccines to curb the pandemic."
The starting date of Ramadan, the holiest Muslim month, is set by both lunar calculations and physical sightings to determine the beginning of a new month.