Dubai: Dubai Police iftar cannons will be placed at eight locations (seven fixed and one mobile which will move across 15 areas), officials said on Monday.
A crew consisting of a sergeant, traffic officer and soldiers have been assigned to bring the cannons into the designated areas.
Details of the Ramadan cannon and related events were announced by Major General Abdullah Ali Al Ghaithi, Assistant Commander-in-Chief for Operations Affairs in Dubai Police, during a press conference at the Sustainable Pavilion at Dubai Expo.
Sumaya Al Ali, Vice President of Government Partnerships at Expo City Dubai, Butti Al Falasi, Director of the Security Awareness Department at the General Directorate of Community Happiness, Major Abdullah Tarish Al Amimi, Commander of Iftar Cannons in the month of Ramadan, employees of both parties and media were also attended the conference .
Members of the public have been invited to closely and safely watch Dubai Police as they fire the iftar cannon at the fixed locations.
Dubai Police iftar cannons have become a popular tradition since the early 1960s. Every day during the holy month of Ramadan, a single shot is fired at the time of iftar, Major General Al Ghaithi said.
The Dubai Police cannons are British-made PDR MK1L Cannons 25, which use 25mm calibre ammunition and have a sound range of 170 decibels which can be heard 10km away. The cannons were made in 1945.
“We have had these cannons since the sixties and they undergo periodic maintenance,” Major General Al Ghaithi said.
For the first time, Dubai Police will use the French cannon to announce iftar time and it will be placed in the main location at Dubai Expo.
Police will also to use mobile Ramadan cannons to announce Iftar at 15 locations.
Major Abdullah Al Amimi said that besides Dubai Expo, the six other fixed locations include Madinat Jumeriah, Dubai Festival City, Burj Khalifa, Damac Hills, Uptown Mirdif and Hatta Guest House.
The mobile cannons will be sent to Al Satwa near the Big Mosque, Dubai International Financial Centre, Zabeel, Al Aweer, Al Lahbab near Lahbab mosque, Al-Nahda School for Girls in Al-Lisaili, Al Al Khawaneej near the Al Haby mosque, Al Tawar near the Bin Dafous mosque, Al Mankool near Muslla Al Eid, Al Barsha near Al Salam mosque, Ain Dubai, Madinat Mohmmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Jumerial near Kite Beach, Nad Al Sheba near Nad Al Sheba mosque and Palm Jumeriah.
The mobile cannons are scheduled to remain for two days at the above-mentioned areas.
Dubai Police will also fire the cannons that will announce the sighting of the new crescent and the start of Ramadan, as is the tradition since the early 1960s.
“The cannons have become one of the local symbols of Ramadan and tourist attractions. People can come with their families to enjoy these special moments that will be broadcast live on TV,” said Al Amimi.
The Ramadan cannons will be fired every day at sunset to announce iftar from Al Wasl Avenue at the Expo City Dubai.
Cannons ready in four Sharjah locations
The Sharjah Police have identified four locations to place cannons: They include Al Majaz waterfront, Hison Al Dhaid in Central Region, Clock Tower in Kalba city and Khorfakkan Amphitheatre in Khor Fakkan.
The Sharjah government will also distribute meals to those attending the cannon firing this year.
How the cannon tradition came about
Historically, the Ramadan cannon has served as a means to announce the end of the fast at sunset. However, today it plays an important but different role, namely to keep Ramadan traditions alive.
The tradition of the firing of the cannon began in the early days of Islam, when the Fatimid caliph instructed that a cannon be placed at the highest point of a city so that during Ram-adan, all Muslims would be able to hear the shot signalling the end of the fast at sunset.
In the UAE, the tradition started in Sharjah during the rule of Sultan Bin Saqr who reigned from 1803 to 1866 .
The exact date when the cannon was introduced is not known, but it is common knowledge that it was used to announce the breaking of the fast at one point during the rule of Shaikh Sultan Bin Saqr.
In Dubai, the cannon was introduced during the rule of Shaikh Saeed Al Maktoum (1912-1958) to unify the call for iftar.
“The imams were instructed by the Ruler not to call for iftar until they heard the firing of the cannon. The timing was determined by the Ruler upon recommendation from a group of religious scholars.
In 1960, the firing of the cannon was entrusted to Dubai Police. Since then, the Ramadan cannon has remained under their supervision.
“Although today there are no practical reasons for the use of the cannon, the majority of them still exist in order to preserve our tradition.