An official prepares one of the Dubai Police’s five cannons to be fired announcing the iftar time. Image Credit: Dubai Police

Dubai: If you are living in Dubai and you hear a boom before Maghrib (sunset) prayers, then don’t worry, it’s the Ramadan cannon by Dubai Police to announce the iftar time, the end of the fasting period.

Dubai Police’s Weapons and Ammunition Department of the General Department of Services and Supplies is responsible for the cannons which will be placed in five areas across the city.

Lieutenant-Colonel Abdullah Mubarak Bin Mosabah, head of the Weapons and Ammunition Department, said it is a tradition that has been followed in Arab countries for years.

“It has been traditional since the 1960s in the city to use cannons to announce iftar every day [during Ramadan]. We have prepared the cannons to locate them in different places in Dubai,” Lt-Col Bin Mosabah said.

Dubai Police have six cannons, five of which are in use and one is used as a backup.

“We fire around 180 cartridges across Dubai during Ramadan and Eid from the five cannons. Each cannon is fired twice in a row to announce Ramadan, once every day to announce iftar and twice in a row to announce Eid and again twice in the morning of Eid, after Eid prayers.”

The Dubai Police cannons are British-made PDR MK1L Cannons 25, which use 25mm calibre ammunition and has a sound range of 170 decibels which can be heard 10km away. The cannons were made in 1945.

“We have had those cannons since the sixties and they undergo periodic maintenance,” Lt-Col Bin Mosabah said.

They can be seen during Ramadan near Deira prayer grounds, near Al Mamzar Park, Al Karama prayer grounds, Jumeirah Beach Residence and Burj Khalifa.

The cannon fires a blank cartridge that only contains black powder, Lt-Col Bin Mosabah said.

“However, people should never stand in front of the cannon, because it produces sound and heat. A safe distance is around 20 metres away from the cannon.

“The cannons have become one of the local symbols of Ramadan, and tour companies are adding them to their tourist routes.”