MANAMA: Today marks the beginning of Ramadan in Bahrain.
His Majesty King Hamad, His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Premier, exchanged greetings marking the advent of the holy month.
They also exchanged cables of greetings with leaders of Arab and Islamic countries.
The leaders received cables of greetings from Royal Family members, chairmen of the Shura Council and parliament, senior officials, dignitaries, diplomats, heads of societies, federations, clubs and citizens.
Cannons will fire across Bahrain today to signal the beginning of Ramadan.
The Interior Ministry has set up cannons near Arad Fort in Muharraq, Riffa Fort and near the headquarters of the General Directorate of Civil Defence in Manama.
Cannons will be fired daily all month to signal the beginning and the end of the fasting period, which today lasts until 6.18pm.
People can visit the three locations to witness the cannon firing, which will also be broadcast live on Bahrain Television.
Some historians believe the custom of firing the Ramadan cannon dates back as far as 10th Century Egypt, when one of the Fatimid caliphs ordered a cannon be placed on Cairo’s Muqatam Hill so all Muslims would hear the signal to break their fasts.
Additional patrols will be deployed, particularly near malls and mosques, to ensure a smooth flow of traffic.
The General Directorate of Traffic said it is co-ordinating with the Directorate of King Fahad Causeway Police.
The peak period for trucks would be from 7.30-8.30 in the mornings and 1.30-2.30 in the afternoons, it said.
The traffic directorate said its service-related section will remain open from 8am-3pm, except the inspection and accident department which will continue to remain open until 5pm and the driving test school until 7pm.
During Ramadan, Muslims are supposed to abstain from food, drink, sex and smoking during daylight hours to cleanse their bodies and minds, bringing them closer to God.
Anyone caught eating, drinking or smoking in public during daylight faces arrest and prosecution – with sentences of up to a year in jail and BD100 fines.