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Fact's About Saudi Arabia
¹ Culmination of the Haj or Holy Pilgrimage.
² The lunar Islamic Hijra calendar is made up of 12 months, each month alternating between 29 and 30 days per month, culminating in a total of 354 days per year.  The Hijra calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and annually moves 11 days backward through the seasons. 
³  The Birthday of the Prophet Mohammad is celebrated on the twelfth day in the month of Rabi'l of the Islamic calendar.
Ramadan (the month of fasting) begins with the first appearance of the new moon in the ninth month of the lunar Islamic Hijra calendar, and lasts 30 days.  Dates for the start of Ramadan will vary from country to country, depending on the first appearance of the moon.
Feasting that officially marks the end of Ramadan, and commonly lasts for 3 days.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia uses the Islamic (Hijrah) calendar, in reference to the migration (Hijrah) of Prophet Muhammad and his companions from Makkah to Madinah on Monday the 1st of Rabi Al-Awal, corresponding to 13 September 622 AD. The Hijrah year has 12 lunar months and consists of 354 days (see appendix XV for the calendar of 1417 H., corresponding to 1996-1997 AD). Date writing begins with the day first, then the month, then the year. Since Hijrah is the official calendar in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is advisable to use it in your official documents and correspondence. The Hijrah date is usually followed by the Gregorian date; e.g., 1 Muharram 1417 H., corresponding to 18 May 1996, or 1/1/1417 H., corresponding to 18/5/1996.

There are two great festivals in an Islamic year, both observed by the Saudi private sector as well as government. The first is "Eid Al-Fitr" (the feast of the breaking of the fast of the month of "Ramadan"), which lasts for three days. However, "Eid Al-Fitr" holiday is customarily ten days long at the end of the month of "Ramadan" and the beginning of the month of "Shawal.". "Eid Al-Adha" (the Feast of Sacrifice, which commemorates Abraham’s intention to sacrifice his son Ishmael in fulfillment of God’s order) is the second of the two great festivals, and lasts for four days. The holiday of "Eid Al-Adha" is also a ten day holiday usually extending from the fifth to the fifteenth day of the month of "Thul-Hijja." It is observed by the government and private sector for the performance of Hajj (the Islamic religious pilgrimage to Holy Makkah). However, most of the Saudi private sector observes the two holidays for three and five days respectively.

Saudi National Day is September 23rd.

BUSINESS HOURS

Government offices are open Saturday through Wednesday from 7:30 a.m., to 2:30 p.m. The official weekend holiday for the government and some private businesses is Thursday and Friday. Private business working hours vary but are generally from 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. to noon, and from 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. General banking hours are from 8:00 a.m. to noon, and from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Markets and shops are open from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., with a rather long lunch break.During the month of "Ramadan", working hours are reduced. Government offices open from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and private sector working hours are shortened to about six hours a day.

TIME ZONE : All the Kingdom is under one time zone. Saudi Arabia is three hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
  • The dates of Muslim holidays of all 200+ countries of this website are based on the Umm al-Qura Calendar which is the Muslim calendar used in Saudi Arabia. This a reasonable choice conceptually, since Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam, and the only country in the world to use the Islamic calendar for day-to-day civil matters (as opposed to other countries that only use it for religious matters). Most other countries in the Arabian peninsula also follow the Saudi calendar.

  • Since AH 1423, the Saudi criterion for determining if the day after the 29th day of a lunar month is the 30th day of that same month or the first day of the next month, is that the next day is the first day of the new lunar month, if on the 29th day of the lunar month the two following conditions are satisfied : a) the geocentric conjunctiona between the Sun and the Moon occurs before sunset, and b) the Moon sets after the Sun. Both moonset and sunset are calculated for the geographical location of Mecca.

  • However, it must be noted that other countries in the world tend to rely on human sighting of the first crescent of the Moon (some accept sighting reports from anywhere in the world, and some insist on sightings made within their national borders), meaning that dates in these countries can vary by a day with respect to the Saudi Arabian dates (their holidays, when different, are usually one day later than the Saudi ones) and, most importantly are subject to change until the Moon crescent for the current Islamic month is actually sighted. For examples of such differences.

  • Many of the Muslim holidays, especially the Eids, last between 3 and 4 days.

  • Finally, it is important to note that the Muslim day starts at sunset, and not at midnight. Therefore all holidays presented here actually begin the evening before the displayed date (for example, if a holiday is displayed as occurring on March 4th, then it actually began at sunset the evening before, on March 3rd).