AFP - The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan will start on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest shrines, state television Al-Ekhbariyah said.
The news channel said on Tuesday night that the supreme judicial council, which is in charge of confirming the sighting of the new moon, has announced the beginning of the lunar month.
The exact dates of the start and the end of Ramadan depend on the sighting of the new moon as many Muslim countries reject using astronomical calculation for the Muslim lunar calendar.
Muslims observe the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar by abstaining from food, drink and sex from dawn until sunset during Ramadan. The fast is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Qatar also announced that Wednesday is the first day of the fasting month, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, according to their respective state news agencies.
Kuwait also announced that Ramadan begins on Wednesday, Al-Arabiya news channel said.
In Egypt, Ramadan will also start on Wednesday, the state-run MENA news agency reported.
Jordan's chief Islamic justice Ahmad Hilayel said the new moon could not be sighted in the kingdom. But he said it was sighted in some neighbouring countries and that Jordanian scientists used astronomical calculations to determine that Ramadan starts Wednesday in the country.
Lebanon also announced the beginning of the fasting month on Wednesday, the official news agency NNA said citing the Sunni Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabani.
Syria and Yemen also announced that Ramadan will begin on Wednesday.
Ramadan will however start on Thursday in Oman which said that the new moon was not sighted, according to official news agency, ONA.
The ultra-conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia is home to Mecca, in the western part of the kingdom, which is Islam's holiest site along with neighbouring Medina, where Prophet Mohammed is buried.