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The holy month of Ramadan is considered the holiest and most sacred month of the Islamic Hijri (lunar) calendar. Muslims firmly believe that it was during this exalted month that the archangel Gabriel descended from the heavens and revealed the Message to the Prophet Muhammad.
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are required to elevate their level of spiritual and physical submission to God by way of fasting; that is to say, Muslims must abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and also husband-wife intimacy from the breaking of dawn until the setting of the sun.
As we prepare to welcome the holiest of months, here are the dates, calendar and guide to spending Ramadan 2023 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Ramadan dates and calendar 2023
Ramadan 2023 in Saudi Arabia will fall on Wednesday, March 22, 2023 and followed by Eid al Fitr festival on Thursday, April 20, 2023. These dates will naturally be confirmed as we move closer to Ramadan.
However, tradition mandates that the exact date of the holy month’s beginning must be determined by a moon-sighting committee consisting of religious scholars, astronomers, and other authorities under the cover of night. The committee is responsible for observing certain sightings related to the appearance and cycle of the new crescent moon which heralds the start of Ramadan.
Ramadan moon sighting 2023 in Saudi Arabia
The Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia has urged all Muslims residing in the country to look out for the sighting of the crescent moon on Tuesday evening, marking the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan. As per the Umm al-Qura calendar, the moon is expected to be visible on March 21, 2023.
The court has requested those who spot the moon with or without the help of binoculars to inform the nearest court to record their testimony or to contact the nearest center for assistance in reaching the nearest court.
Umrah during Ramadan
If you are thinking of performing Umrah in Ramadan, you can check our article about the latest update of Umrah 2023 below.
Ramadan in Saudi Arabia
The common thread that runs through all predominantly Muslim countries in Ramadan is that life generally slows down as the hours for working and schooling are reduced by two to three hours. Many opt to embrace a nocturnal lifestyle in the sense that they shift their schedule to allow them to sleep through the day and work through the night.
Unlike in places like Dubai, most supermarkets, malls, shops, restaurants, cafes and nearly all other eateries close down during the daylight hours. Hotels remain open and may still offer food to their non-fasting guests, albeit in screened and partitioned areas.
Close to sunset, numerous mosques are filled with lines of people sitting in lines facing spreads of food. As the call to prayer is heard signifying the arrival of Iftar (breaking of the fast), numerous people can be heard chanting their prayers before helping themselves to the available sustenance.
It’s also common to observe people, both local residents and visitors, handing out dates and bottles of water to passersby while shouting ‘halal‘ at busy intersections close to Iftar time. The month of Ramadan indeed encourages Muslims to further practice benevolence and charity.
Most businesses resume operations after Iftar and continue to do so until 1 or 2 in the morning. This naturally makes the Ramadan nights alive and wonderful as opposed to its slow and somber days. Friends and family gather at midnight at malls, restaurants and cafes to shop and indulge in Ramadan snacks, before retiring to their homes and preparing the pre-dawn meal.
In the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, Muslims eat dates to break their fasts; among Saudis, a selection of dates is frequently eaten, along with Arabic coffee, soup, and fried or baked stuffed pastry (samboosa and other dishes).
To top it all off, kunafah (a sugar-soaked pastry loaded with cheese or cream) and logaimat (little round balls of fried dough covered in sweet syrup) are the most popular Arabian deserts on Saudi tables, with qatayef (pancakes filled with cream or nuts) being the icing on the cake.
Some rules to observe
The month of Ramadan is strictly observed in Saudi Arabia. Although non-Muslims are not expected to fast during the month, they are strictly forbidden to eat, drink and smoke publicly during the day, as it’s punishable by law. The word ‘public’ extends to not just open-air places like streets or parks, but also to offices, factories and other types of workplaces.
Saudi authorities have lifted most COVID-19 restrictions and social distancing measures just before Ramadan 2023. As a result, Muslims in the KSA once again can be free to observe Ramadan in the ways they are used to.
It has been confirmed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah that indeed the Umrah pilgrimage will be allowed to be undertaken this year, albeit with a number of fresh rules and restrictions. For a detailed breakdown of this year’s Umrah, please do visit our Umrah 2023 article.
Ramadan praying hours in Saudi Arabia
Muslims living in Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, Medina, and other cities start observing Ramadan as per the Sehri time or Iftar time in Saudi Arabia. This is one of the main reasons why the starting date of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia has great significance for them. Below is the complete timetable for Ramadan 2023 in Saudi Arabia.