UAE cuts Friday sermons at mosques over sizzling heat

The sermons usually last for 20 minutes for the main weekly prayers on Fridays but can run even longer [Getty]

The United Arab Emirates has shortened Friday sermons at mosques to protect worshippers from severe heat, amid rising summer temperatures linked to climate change.

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs, in a statement on Thursday, ordered preachers to limit Friday sermons to 10 minutes from June to October, when temperatures cool.

The sermons usually last for 20 minutes for the main weekly prayers on Fridays but can run even longer, with large crowds gathering outside mosques at midday.

The decision was aimed at ensuring “the safety of worshippers… especially during the summer months”, the statement said.

It coincides with UAE authorities’ efforts to avoid heat strokes and other complications as temperatures approach 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in parts of the country.

From June until September, the UAE prohibits work under direct sunlight and in open-air areas between noon and 3:00 pm as part of a longstanding “midday break” policy widely adopted across the Gulf.

The desert region, already one of the world’s hottest, faces rising threats from high temperatures attributed to climate change.

Earlier this month, more than 1,300 people died while performing the annual Muslim hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia during intense heat, according to Saudi authorities.

Most where unauthorised pilgrims who had to walk long distances under direct sunlight, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

“Rising temperatures in the region, combined with high humidity, create dangerous conditions,” said Karim Elgendy, as associate fellow at the Chatham House think-tank.

“This presents a serious threat to human health in outdoor environments,” the climate expert told AFP.

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