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.