Oil slump: Saudi Arabia switches to ‘Western’ calendar for civil servants pay

FILE- In this Monday, Oct. 6, 2003 file photo, Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh with the 'Kingdom Tower' photographed through a window of the 'Al-Faislia Tower' in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange has opened up to direct foreign investment for the first time. The decision to open up the Tadawul stock exchange on Monday comes at a crucial time for Saudi Arabia, whose revenue has taken a hit from the plunge in oil prices over the past year. The kingdom is the world’s largest exporter of crude. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)
FILE- In this Monday, Oct. 6, 2003 file photo, Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh with the 'Kingdom Tower' photographed through a window of the 'Al-Faislia Tower' in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange has opened up to direct foreign investment for the first time. The decision to open up the Tadawul stock exchange on Monday comes at a crucial time for Saudi Arabia, whose revenue has taken a hit from the plunge in oil prices over the past year. The kingdom is the world’s largest exporter of crude. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

Saudi Arabia has shifted to the Gregorian or “Western” calendar as a basis for paying civil servants as part of an austerity package.

The birthplace of Islam shifted to the Gregorian calendar on Sunday, bringing the oil-rich kingdom in line with many of its energy customers.

The Islamic lunar calendar is actually 15 days shorter than the 365-day Gregorian year which means Saudi civil servants work more days for their salaries.

The kingdom has been using the Islamic calendar since it was founded in 1932, Al Arabiya local news reported.

The Kingdom had last week announced a cut of 20 per cent of salaries for ministers and other top political appointees.

A decree issued by King Salman last Monday said the government has decided to “stop and cancel some bonuses and financial benefits” for top officials including Mr. Salman.

Saudi Arabia like most oil producing countries is currently facing financial difficulties owing to the low price of oil, its main export. The Kingdom suffered a $100 billion budget deficit last year.

Apart from the 20 per cent pay cut for ministers, 15 per cent cut was also announced for all members of the Shura on their housing and car allowances.

Reports said other bonuses were curbed at between 25 and 50 per cent of basic salaries, while annual leave may no longer exceed 30 days.

Al Arabiya reported that austerity measures and the need to conserve funds caused the shift from the Islamic to Western calendar.

It also said Saudi workers will now need to work more days to earn the salaries already sliced by government.


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  • Bright Henry

    Look at what serious countries that are facing recession like Nigeria is doing to save costs. Yet no one has dared to take serious measures to end ours.

    • adolfs01

      They are not actually in recession. Despite that they take a necessary measure.

  • JasV

    It took eighty-four years for this country to realise the falacy in their calendar. I do hope it will not take that long to come to realization that it has to cooperate with OPEC, reduce oil production figures to bring up prices.