RIYADH: Ramadan 2020 will start on Friday April 24, Saudi Arabia's Supreme Court announced on Thursday.
The holy month this year will be markedly different to previous ones as the coronavirus pandemic has stopped much of the world’s activities, including at places of worship.
The Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, Islam’s two holiest sites, are effectively empty as both city’s populations are under a full curfew to stop the virus spreading.
When Ramadan starts the Kingdom will ease the lockdown so that people can leave their homes to meet necessary needs, such as health care and food supplies, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Usually, the two cities swell with visitors each year during Ramadan as pilgrims from across the globe seek the blessings of worshipping at the holy mosques. The Kingdom stopped all pilgrimages in late February to contain the virus.
King Salman in a tweet early Friday wrote: “We thank God that we have reached the holy month of Ramadan and we ask him to accept our fasting and prayers. We also pray to him so that all misfortune be lifted from us and from the world. May this month be full of virtue, blessings, hope and peace for our people and for all the peoples of the world.”
More than 1.6 billion Muslims around the world will mark the month, during which believers abstain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset.