Dates, not that kind of dates and not the ones you can eat, can be confusing in Saudi Arabia because we use two calendars: the Hijri and the Gregorian. Since our country boasts itself as the bastion of Islam, the official calendar used by the government is the Hijri calendar. But since the Hijri calendar is lunar and the religious establishment here refuses to accept any other mean of moon sighting except the naked eye, this has led to some unpredictability and controversy over the years, especially when it comes to announcing the start of Ramadhan, Eid or Hajj.
Writer Mohammed Hasan Alwan captured this duality in his latest novel, where one of the characters complained: “That’s what makes time passing heavier on us, to live in a country that uses two calendars to audit its accounts. Why? A Hiri year, and a Gregorian year, and the year ends twice, and life ends twice.” The new Hijri calendar introduced by Google might not solve the problem of Mohammed Hasan Alwan’s character, but it should help the rest of us to avoid some confusion when it comes to organizing our life around two calendars. You can enable the Hijri calendar by going to the calendar settings and select the desired calendar from the drop down box next to “Alternate calendar”.