Manama: Eid Al Fitr, the feast marking the end of Ramadan, is expected to start on June 15, astronomers in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have said.

“We expect Ramadan this year to last only 29 days and to end on June 14. The crescent marking the end of the month will be visible for about 43 minutes, so Eid will be on Friday,” Abdullah Al Misnad, a professor at the University on Qasim in Saudi Arabia, said.

Astronomer Khalid Al Zaaq said that Ramadan would not be 30 days and that, therefore, Eid would be on June 15.

Another astronomer, Ziyad Al Jahni, said that he was certain based on his calculations that Ramadan would be 29 days and that Muslims would celebrate Eid Al Fitr on June 15.

“I am 99.99 per cent sure about it, so those who are thinking of travelling anywhere should go ahead with their plans based on the June 15 date,” he said, quoted by Saudi news site Sabq on Friday.

Adel Al Saadoon, one of Kuwait’s best-known astronomers, said that Eid would start on Friday, June 15.

“The crescent will be visible with the naked eye in most Arab countries and some Islamic countries on Thursday following sunset, so the next day will be Eid,” he said.

The Islamic calendar is based on the moon, making months last 29 or 30 days.

The sighting of the crescent moon marking the start or finish of Ramadan has often been a point of debate among Muslims, resulting in countries announcing the start or the end of the holy month on different days.

The clash is mainly between conservatives who insist on seeing the moon with the naked eye, in line with a literal interpretation of Islamic principles.

Such a view is in contrast with that held by those who call for the use of astronomical calculations to predict the start or end of the month.

For the naked-eye sightings, varying geographical and weather conditions meant that people in different locations cannot see the appearance of the moon, resulting in Muslims around the world starting or ending their fast on different days.

However, the strict interpretation of the visibility stipulation is increasingly becoming a source of national and social divisions, defeating the call for unity preached by Islam during the sacred month.