Half the Saudi population receiving welfare in new system, says labor minister

A Saudi money changer displays Saudi Riyal banknotes at a currency exchange shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 29, 2016. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 December 2017
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Half the Saudi population receiving welfare in new system, says labor minister

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia paid SR2 billion ($533 million) on Thursday in the first monthly installment of a new welfare system for low and middle-income families that make up approximately half of the Kingdom’s population.
The payments come ahead of the introduction of a 5 percent value-added tax on most goods, like food and services, as well as subsidy cuts that will raise the price of electricity and gasoline next year.
Minister of Labor and Social Development Ali Al-Ghafees told Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that bank transfers were made to approximately 3 million families, reaching around 10.6 million beneficiaries. He said half of those families received the maximum payment of SR938 ($250). The minimum payment is SR300 ($80).
The payouts come two days after the government announced plans for the biggest budget in the Kingdom’s history, with plans to spend at least SR978 billion ($261 billion) this coming fiscal year. The government already introduced a tax on tobacco products, soft drinks and energy drinks this year, as well as a tax on luxury goods.
The government said it expects to pay approximately SR32 billion ($8.5 billion) on the Citizens Account payments in 2018.


King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed ‘lend new dimension to unification’

Millions of citizens plan to celebrate the Saudi national day on Sunday. (SPA)
Updated 23 September 2018
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King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed ‘lend new dimension to unification’

  • More than 900,000 fireworks will light up the sky from 58 locations across the Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Day, celebrated every year on Sept. 23, has come a long way in broadening the concept of unification over the years.
Though the National Day meant unifying disparate sheikhdoms under the nation’s founder, the late King Abdul Aziz, its implications across the political, socioeconomic and cultural spectrum have not been lost on successive rulers.
It was King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who fine-tuned the definition of unification as an operating philosophy. This is why millions of citizens plan to celebrate the Saudi National Day on the streets on Sunday.
The capital city, along with other Saudi cities, will witness fireworks and the unfurling of the largest national flag. More than 900,000 fireworks will light up the sky from 58 locations across the Kingdom.
Car owners, limousine drivers and young Saudi motorcyclists said that they planned to go for drives, particularly on the fashionable streets of the capital city, to celebrate. Grocery shops, stationery shops and vendors were selling bunting, flags, banners and pictures of national heroes.
“We went around the city to see the lighting and fireworks,” said Saleh Al-Omri, a local pharmacist. “Green and white balloons fill either sides of Riyadh streets,” he said.
In his National Day congratulatory message, Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, said: “The wise policy of the leaders of this country contributed to peace, security and stability.”
Fakhr Al-Shawaf, chief executive of Al-Bawani Contracting Co., said: “We are celebrating the 88th anniversary of our unification, a day when the late King Abdul Aziz established the Saudi nation.”
Ali Al-Othaim, a member of Riyadh Chamber’s board of directors, said: “The Kingdom is on the path of comprehensive economic and social development under Vision 2030.”
Shafik Namdar, a taxi driver, said that he had bought an SR10 flag for his car and planned to work and also drive with his friends to look at the city and its landmark buildings.
Several young boys, including Arslan, 12, and Mishal, 14, said that they had bought bunting, badges and flags to decorate their houses. They planned to celebrate with a special meal at home with relatives, before going into the city streets for dance and music. Some of them had plans to organize celebrations in public parks.