UAE mosques ordered to shorten Fridays sermons during heat of summer

FILE PHOTO: A mosque is seen on the Jumeirah beach road in Dubai

By Tala Ramadan

DUBAI (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates has instructed mosque preachers across the country to limit the duration of Friday sermons and prayers to a maximum 10 minutes as searing heat continues to engulf the region, the state news agency said on Thursday.

The directive, issued by the UAE's General Authority for Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Zakat (AWQAF), will take effect on Friday and last until early October, according to the WAM agency.

The decision was made to " ensure the safety of worshippers and to meet the needs of those who visit the houses of God, especially during the summer months when temperatures are high," WAM added.

According to the UAE's National Center of Meteorology, summer temperatures in the Gulf country frequently exceed 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), with some areas experiencing highs of up to 50 C (122 F).

At the annual haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, 1,301 people died, 83% of whom were unregistered pilgrims exposed to direct sunlight "without adequate shelter or comfort," Saudi Arabia's health minister said earlier this week.

(Reporting by Tala Ramadan; Editing by Frances Kerry)