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Tue 9 Oct 2007 12:59 PM

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Eid on Saturday, astronomers say

If correct private sector can look forward to extended weekend after UAE announced holiday for festival.

The Muslim festival of Eid Al Fitr will be celebrated in most of the Islamic countries on Saturday, the Emirates Astronomical Society (EAS) said on Tuesday.

EAS said a small number of Muslim countries, such as Libya, will be able to see the crescent moon on Thursday and will mark Eid on Friday, but for many the moon will not be visible as it will set before or at the same time as the sun rises, reported UAE state news agency Wam.

The society said on Friday the moon will be visible from observatories in northern and central parts of the Islamic world and by the eye in southern parts of the Islamic world.

"'It is impossible to sight the crescent in all parts of the Islamic world on Thursday, October 11, as the moon will set before the sun in most countries or the moon will set at the same time with the sun in other parts," said Mohammed Shuwkat, EAS member and Chairman of the Islamic Crescents' Observation Project (ICOP), quoted Wam.

"Some countries which can see the crescent on Friday will observe Saturday as the first day of Eid," he added.

Shuwkat's comments back up a similar statement made by a Qatar Scientific Club (QSC) astronomer who has also said the festival will most likely fall on Saturday, reported Qatar daily The Peninsula.

Sheikh Salman bin Jaber Al Thani said that Eid, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, is technically on Friday, but the new moon will not be visible on Thursday evening due to astronomical reasons, quoted the newspaper.

No official statement has yet been made as to which date Eid will fall on.

If it does fall on Saturday as expected then private sector workers can look forward to an extended weekend following the UAE's announcement of a two-day holiday for Eid.

The Ministry of Labour on Sunday said employees in the private sector will get two days off on the first and second days of the Shawwal month, which begins the first day of Eid.

For public sector workers the Eid holiday will begin on Thursday, returning to work on Monday or Tuesday depending on when the first day of Eid is, the Minister of Governmental Sector Development said on Monday.

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