Who says Islam and modernity can't go hand and hand? Al Masry Al Yom reported yesterday that Cairo University announced at a press conference last friday that it will begin work in January on the Islamic Satellite. Due to be launched in mid-2006, the satellite will unify the lunar calendar throughout the Islamic world. For those of you unfamiliar with this, basically because the Islamic calendar is based on the moon, the beginning of each month is determined by the sighting (by a human eye) of the new moon. So you have situations where, say, Ramadan begins on one day in Saudi Arabia, but begins a day later in Egypt because, for reasons such as weather, the optical properties of the atmosphere, or the location of the observer, the new moon isn't visible here. So that problem will now be solved... and it will only cost $8 million.
The Arabist is published and edited by Issandr El Amrani, a writer and analyst based in Cairo, with contributions by friends.
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