King’s Ramadan gift: 1,017 prisoners freed

Updated 15 July 2014
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King’s Ramadan gift: 1,017 prisoners freed

Authorities are working around-the-clock to examine the cases of eligible prisoners including expatriates to be released from the Kingdom’s jails in Ramadan, Brig. Ahmed Abdullah Al-Shahrani, director of prisons in Jeddah, said on Tuesday.
In an interview with Arab News, he said that prisoners with minor crimes and those who had met the conditions for royal pardon are being released from prison as a gesture of mercy and kindness of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah during the month of Ramadan.
A special committee supervised by Jeddah Gov. Mishaal bin Majed is studying the cases of inmates who can avail of the royal pardon in Ramadan. The committee will determine the eligibility of the release, he added.
Brig. Shahrani said that up until last week, 1,017 inmates had walked free and the number was due to increase in the next few days.
He said that the released prisoners included Asian and African expatriates. However, he clarified that only prisoners detained for public rights related offenses were eligible for the amnesty.
The official further said that the punitive and correctional committee is closely examining the moral behavior of the inmates in addition to the nature of the crime. He said that memorization of the Holy Qur’an was also being taken into consideration for the amnesty.
Brig. Shahrani said that this year, 30 foreign non-Muslim inmates had converted to Islam having been impressed by Islamic teachings and values.
He said that Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s clemency reflects his interest to enable the released inmates to reunite with their families and relatives. He hoped that the released prisoners would turn over a new page and begin life again free from crime.
The Central Prison in Briman in Jeddah is currently being frequented by visitors of inmates to inquire if they have been pardoned or if their next of kin and friends have been released.
The inmates are being released in batches on a daily basis. Prison authorities are presenting them with gifts prior to their release. Many of the expatriate inmates shed tears of joy as they walked out of the prison.


IMF raises Saudi growth forecast on higher oil prices

Updated 14 min 43 sec ago
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IMF raises Saudi growth forecast on higher oil prices

  • The IMF raises its growth forecast for Saudi Arabia for the third time since October 2017
  • The IMF raises the growth forecast from 1.7% to 1.9% this year

DUBAI: The International Monetary Fund on Monday raised its growth forecast for the world’s top crude exporter Saudi Arabia, citing higher oil prices.
In its World Economic Outlook update, the IMF said the Saudi economy — which contracted by 0.9 percent last year — would grow by 1.9 percent in 2018, up 0.2 percentage points from its April projections.
This is the third time since October that the organization has raised its growth forecasts for the Kingdom, reflecting soaring oil revenues which make up more than 70 percent of Saudi income.
However, it maintained its Saudi growth projections for 2019 at 1.9 percent on predictions that oil prices would moderate.
Oil prices have more than doubled since early 2016, when major producers struck a deal to cut output.
Last month, they agreed to boost output again to compensate for key supply disruptions in Venezuela and Libya, and in a bid to ease prices that have hit $80 a barrel.
The IMF also slightly increased its growth estimates for the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan as a whole to 3.5 percent for this year and 3.9 percent for 2019.
Oil exporters in the region “have benefited from the improved outlook for oil prices, but the outlook for oil importing countries remains fragile,” the IMF said.
“Several economies still face large fiscal consolidation needs and the threat of intensifying geopolitical conflict continues to weigh on growth in the region.”
Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment estimated Saudi Arabia would boost its oil output to 10.3 million barrels per day for 2018, up from 9.9 million bpd for the first six months.
To achieve that, the Kingdom must pump around 10.6 million bpd until the end of 2018.
This will sharply cut Saudi Arabia’s budget deficit to around $30 billion (26 billion euros) from the projected $52 billion, Jadwa said in a report released last week.
Riyadh has posted a budget deficit for the past four consecutive years, borrowing from domestic and international markets and hiking fuel and power prices to finance the shortfall.
It also introduced a five percent value-added tax at the start of 2018.
Since 2014, Saudi budget deficits have totalled $260 billion.