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When Saudis flocked to fill cars before deadline

A man injects a vehicle with fuel at a petrol station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in this file photo taken on October 8, 2017. (REUTERS)
JEDDAH: People rushed to fill cars and other containers before the decision to increase gasoline prices took effect at midnight on Jan. 1, resulting in overcrowding at gas stations.
Abdullah Al-Twairqi tweeted: “People around the world are celebrating New Year’s Eve, while half of the population in Saudi Arabia celebrated in gas stations, waiting in long lines to fill up their cars.”
Since the announcement of the increase, videos and memes of jokes about the matter have gone viral on social media.
As an action to reduce expenses, some Saudis filmed themselves riding bicycles instead of in cars.
Others started asking: “What would happen if I gave my car 91 octane instead of 95 octane?” In his answer, @mohammed55151 tweeted: “It may cause a problem at the beginning, because it takes a little while for the digestive tract to adjust to a new formula.”
Songs were shared or rewritten to fit the timeline of events. One, by the famous Emirati singer Hussein El-Jasmi titled “Murini” or “Come with me,” was widely shared attached with a video of a group of people sharing one motorcycle.
@Alcantara757 tweeted that the unluckiest person in Saudi Arabia now is “unemployed, a smoker and drives a GMC car.”
Saudi Arabia used to be one of the countries that provided the lowest prices for gasoline. That accounts for the public reaction to the new decision.
Dalal Hamad, a Twitter user told Arab News: “I believe these people who film themselves commenting or making jokes are following every opportunity to gain fame; I don’t find them funny at all, they are fame worshippers.”
But Zekra Mohammed, another Twitter user, has another view. She told Arab News: “I believe that this phenomenon shows that jokes are a coping mechanism people use to make life easier on themselves.”
The decision raised the price of 91 octane to sell for SR1.37 ($0.37) per liter, up from 75 halalas; 95 octane increased to SR2.04 per liter, up from 90 halalas.
Notably, the new prices also include value-added tax (VAT), with 5 percent added to every purchase.

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