Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, will start the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on Saturday along with most other GCC and Arab countries.
Senior religious councils in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Algeria and Iraq said the moon's crescent was not sighted after nightfall on Thursday, and so Friday would be the 30th day of Shaaban, the month preceding Ramadan.
The start of the ninth and holiest month of the Muslim calendar is traditionally determined by the sighting of the new moon, often dividing rival Islamic countries and sects over the exact date. More than one billion Muslims worldwide fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month.
Because it follows the lunar cycle, Ramadan comes 11 days earlier every year on the Gregorian calendar, bringing the fasting month this year in the summer.