The move aims to give them a fresh start in life…

Ahead of Ramadan, which is expected to start on Tuesday April 13, His Highness UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has pardoned 439 UAE prisoners. The prisoners were serving various sentences and the leader also pledged to settle any outstanding debts owed by the inmates.

UAE news agency WAM said: “The gesture is part of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa’s humanitarian initiatives and reflective of the values of forgiveness and tolerance to give the prisoners an opportunity to start a new chapter of their life and positively contribute to the service of their families and communities”.

Rulers of the UAE often pardon prisoners around religious holidays as a sign of forgiveness, with more than 2,000 prisoners released during Ramadan last year.

Normally, the inmates selected have all shown signs of good behaviour, and are considered safe to be placed back into society. Many usually include those who have been jailed for financial crimes or debts.

“Sheikh Khalifa’s annual pardon ahead of the fasting month aims to enhance family cohesion and bonds, brings about happiness to mothers and children and provides released prisoners with an opportunity to re-think about their future and return to the righteous path that allows them to lead a successful social and professional life,” WAM continued.

H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has also ordered the release of 206 prisoners in the emirate.

As always, the start of Ramadan will depend on the moon sighting. The moon sighting committee are likely to meet on Monday night, and determine when the first day of the new month will fall.

If the new moon is sighted on Monday night, Ramadan will begin on Tuesday April 13. If not, the start date will be on Wednesday April 14. Reduced working hours for the public and private sectors have already been announced, with government employees working five hours per day and private sector working two fewer hours.

Eid Al Fitr, the end of Ramadan and the start of the Shawwal month, is expected to begin on Thursday May 13.

Image: Getty