Burj Khalifa
Image Credit: Insta/ burjkhalifa

Dubai: Residents in the UAE usually tend to fast for around 14 hours, but when you want get into specifics, then you’ll notice that some people end their fast earlier than others.

Muslims in the UAE will be fasting for the shortest time at the start of Ramadan for an average of 14 hours and 4 minutes on the first day of Ramadan, with fasts getting longer towards the end of the month and will reach up to 14 hours and 46 minutes.

In 2021, Ramadan is set to start on April 12 or 13, subject to moonsighting. And each emirate will give residents a slightly different time to end their fast.

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In Abu Dhabi, Muslim residents will fast for 14 hours and 4 minutes. Their fast starts at 4.43am on the first day of Ramadan and ends by 6.47pm.

Residents in Dubai will be fasting for 14 hours and 5 minutes on the first day of Ramadan. Fajr will take place at 4.39am and Maghrib will be at 6.44pm.

People in Sharjah will start fasting at 4.37pm and end it by 6.41pm, so their fast will last for 14 hours, 4 minutes.

Meanwhile in Ajman, residents will fast for 14 hours and 5 minutes, from 4.36am until 6.41pm.

Umm Al Quwain residents will fast from 4.35am to 6.40pm. That’s also 14 hours, 5 minutes.

In Ras Al Khaimah, Fajr will be from 4.34am and Maghrib will be at 6.39pm, with 14 hours and 5 minutes of fasting.

And finally in Fujairah, residents will start their fast at 4.33am and end it by 6.37pm, at a total of 14 hours and 4 minutes.

Speaking to Gulf News, Ibrahim Al Jarwan, Member of the Arab Federation of Space and Astronomy Sciences, explained that different emirates will have a slight difference in timings for fasting, as well as for iftar – the end of fasting.

“The eastern region will be ahead of the western region in terms of fasting and iftar, which means that areas like Fujairah and Khorfakkan would be around seven minutes ahead of Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile, in places like Al Ghuwaifat and Al Sila’a, near the border of Saudi Arabia, residents will break their fast 11 minutes later than those in Abu Dhabi,” said Al Jarwan, who pointed out that the iftar time between Fujairah and Al Ghuwaifat will differ by 18 minutes in total.

Burj Khalifa vs Jebel Jais

Jebel Jais
Jebel Jais Image Credit: Shutterstock

The same principle for sunset and sunrise timings also applies to those living in skyscrapers, noted Al Jarwan, although the difference in timings will not be as significant.

“In very high towers, the fasting period will be relatively longer the higher up you go, and so residents will have to break their fast when the sun sets according to the particular altitude. But the difference in fasting time in skyscrapers will not be that noticeable as those in mountainous locations, like Jebel Jais,” he said.

“Mathematically speaking, the difference will be about one minute extra for an altitude of 300 metres, which is equivalent to the 90th floor of a skyscraper. It is about two minutes of extra sunlight for an altitude of 600 m or the 170th floor, three minutes for an altitude of 900 m, and four minutes for an altitude of 1,200 m.”

For the more adventurous types who plan on spending iftar at the top of Jebel Jais, what timings can they expect? Al Jarwan replied that there is a six-minute difference between the summit of Jebel Jais, which has an altitude of 1,800 m, and Ras Al Khaimah city.

According to astronomers, the sun rises earlier and sets later at higher altitudes compared to the same location at ground level.

“So those who observe fasting will have iftar six minutes later than residents who live in Ras Al Khaimah city,” he said.

Residents on the higher floors of Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower in Dubai, will also be ending their fast a couple of minutes later than those at ground level.

Earlier in 2016, the Grand Mufti of Dubai had clarified the matter by issuing a fatwa for residents on the higher floors of Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest tower in Dubai – to end their day’s fast two minutes later than those at ground level.

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This is due to the fact that a fast should be observed until the sun has set, which is visible for a longer time at higher altitudes. According to Islamic tradition, the day does not technically end until the disc of the sun has fully disappeared below the horizon.

The Burj Khalifa stands at a total height of 828 metres. The Burj is also known for having the highest occupied floor in the world at 585 metres, which is 163 floors.

So residents who live on the 121st floor or higher will have to fast an additional four minutes as fajr prayer will start earlier and iftar will be later than on the normal ground level.

Why do Ramadan dates change every year?

Muslims follow the lunar (Hijri) calendar, which means that Ramadan starts around 10 or 11 days earlier every year. Moreover, the dates change every year because the lunar year is less than the Gregorian year by about 10 days. Ramadan, therefore, gradually moves between the seasons to fall during summer and in winter.

A lunar calendar is a calendar based on the monthly cycles of the Moon's phases. Similar to the Gregorian calendar, the Hijri one consists of 12 lunar months in a year of 354 or 355 days, rather than 365. It is used to determine the proper days of Islamic holidays and rituals, such as the annual period of fasting and the proper time for the Hajj.

Although Ramadan dates are different, why are the fasts basically always 14 hours long?

The fasting hours hardly change, due to the countries proximity to the earth’s equator. At the Equator, the time between dawn and dusk usually always lasts about 14 hours regardless of whether it is summer, winter, fall or spring.

However, those in the southern and northern hemispheres will experience the most amount of change, as Ramadan moves by ten days each coming year.

At the moment, cities in the southern hemisphere experience shorter fasting time, when Ramadan falls during spring and summer. While those living in the northern hemisphere will typically experience much longer days.