A woman walks past Israeli soldiers and a hanging luminescent star and crescent ornament by pedlars' stalls.
Gulf Today Report
Colourful lanterns and ornate Ramadan decorations filled the streets of Jerusalem on Monday as Palestinians prepared for a holy month freer of COVID-19 restrictions than at the height of the pandemic.
Ahead of Ramadan's expected start on Tuesday, the mood in the Old City was far more joyful than last year when prayers were suspended at the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.
Although Jerusalem is still without foreign tourists, far more people were roaming the Old City, where shops reported brisk business.
"Because of coronavirus, the situation has been bad for the merchants and the people. Now with coronavirus vaccination, the situation got better," said one shopper, Mohammad Abu Sbeih.
Israel has included Palestinians in East Jerusalem in its swift rollout of vaccines. It annexed the eastern half of the city after capturing it along with the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war.
But it is unclear if Palestinians from the occupied West Bank will be able to come to Al-Aqsa during Ramadan, as in previous years.
The situation may be complicated by the far slower pace of vaccinations carried out by the Palestinian authorities than in Israel, which has faced international calls to ensure that Palestinians are inoculated.
In the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Authority said it would allow more shops to open at night and for Ramadan night prayers to be held in mosques, except on the busiest day of the week, Friday, when they would take place outside.
But it imposed a COVID night-time curfew on movements between cities, villages and refugee camps.
It also banned restaurants from holding ifthars - the breaking of the fast at sunset - and stores selling sweet pastries from opening their doors to customers, saying they could only make deliveries.
In Gaza, shoppers filled markets despite a recent threefold increase in daily infections. That forced the Gaza health authorities to close schools, impose night curfews and ban large gatherings, but fell short of a total lockdown.
"This year, we brought goods from Egypt and China, and there is a massive turnout by people," said storekeeper Hatem El-Helo as loudspeakers echoed with Egyptian songs celebrating Ramadan. "People want to bring joy into their homes."
The first day of Ramadan is most likely to fall on April 13. UAE residents will have to observe approximately 14 hours of fasting with a slight difference between various regions of the country.
Major Abdullah Tarish Al Amimi said that cannons have been set up in six different locations across the emirates. Including Atlantis -the Palm, Al Salam Masjid in Al Barsha, Burj Khalifa, Al Mamzar Beach, Al Habbai Mosque in Al Khawaneej, and the praying ground in Al Mankhool.
The Shariah courts nationwide will follow up and inform the committee of any sightings, while the Lunar Calendar Committee at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department will continue collecting evidence and informing the Moon-Sighting Committee with the findings.
The European Commission is working on a "Digital Green Pass" that would provide proof of vaccination and COVID-19 test results, with the aim of making travel easier for people in the European Union and abroad. The pass may be available from June, but countries are already getting ready for tourists.
Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, 71, who grew up on Caribbean island of Trinidad and later became a citizen of Denmark, was awarded the prize in recognition of her achievements in pioneering fish-based food systems to improve nutrition, health and livelihoods for millions around the world.
Hoping to prove a cut above the competition, Pakistani barber Ali Abbas relies on an unusual array of tools to practice his craft -- including blowtorches, meat cleavers, and even broken glass.
Instagram and Twitter have blamed technical errors for deleting posts mentioning the ransack of Palestinians from East Jerusalem, but data rights groups fear "discriminatory" algorithms are at work and want greater transparency.