Dubai: The UAE in 2015 declared a holiday for the birthday of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) twice — in January and December — as the Islamic year cycle was completed before the Gregorian year cycle.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Labour announced public and private sectors will have a holiday on December 24 to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet. In the UAE and many other Muslim countries, the Prophet’s birthday is officially held on the 12th day of Rabi Al Awwal, the third month of the Islamic Hijri calendar.

The Hijri year is 354 days, compared to the longer Gregorian year of 365 days. As a result, the Hijri calendar “moves” through the seasons, arriving around 10 days “sooner” each year when compared to the Gregorian calendar.

In 2015, the Hijri date for the birthday corresponded to January 3 (Saturday) and December 24 (Thursday).

The arrangement also means the UAE will have a longer official three-day weekend, from December 24 (Thursday) to December 26 (Saturday).

There is no universally accepted date for the Prophet’s birthday as the day and month in which he was born was not recorded. However, historians and biographers agree he was born in Makkah (in modern-day Saudi Arabia) in the Year of the Elephant, a pre-Islamic year that corresponds to around 570 or 571AD.