KSA switches to Gregorian calendar

Banks are prepared for the change.
Updated 03 October 2016
0

KSA switches to Gregorian calendar

RIYADH: Salaries, allowances and other payments to public servants will now be paid according to the Gregorian calendar in order to be aligned with the country’s fiscal year, according to a recent decision by the Council of Ministers.
On Wednesday the Cabinet agreed to switch from the Hijri calendar for payment of salaries, wages, bonuses and allowances to all civil sector employees.
The decision to switch from the lunar-based Hijri calendar to the solar-based Gregorian calendar was effective Oct. 1 and brought the government sector in line with the payment of wages in the private sector.
The government move evoked a mixed reaction.
Concerns were expressed about the banking network’s ability to cover all cash withdrawals on the first day that salaries are paid. Not only will this be an unprecedented situation in the history of the country, but it will also coincide with the date of deposit of the salaries of private sector employees.
According to the Sabq.org online portal, while concerns have also been raised about the effects on shopping operations on the first day of salary deposits, a financial analyst at Bank Albilad, Turki Fadaak, reassured the public of the reliability and absorptive capacity of the banking system and its ability to deal with the change.
“I do not think that the shift to the Gregorian calendar will have any impact on banking systems and operations,” he said.
He noted that the population of Saudi Arabia is a little over 30 million, a figure that cannot be compared to some developed countries which have populations far beyond that and yet experience no problems.
He said there was a sufficient number of ATMs in the Saudi market and that they would be able to cope with the rush of withdrawals if that happens.
As to whether he believes restricting loan operations to a single day by banks will affect banks’ performance in the 29 days that follow the payment of public and private sector employees, he said: “On the contrary, it will lead to greater efficiency in the use of revenues and standardization.”
Faisal Al-Zahrani, a former public servant who was employed in a ministry, said that this was a new adjustment made by the government in order to rationalize its budgeted expenditures. After the payment of the first month’s salary, payments will automatically be adjusted, he said.
Naif Al-Rasheed, a senior journalist in Riyadh, told Arab News that the new system comes in the context of the government’s rationalization program.
“The move is also seen as a positive gesture to serve the interests of the citizens,” he said.
Reacting to the decision, Mohammed Zeyad, a public relations executive, said the shift to the Gregorian calendar was in response to the decision made by the government earlier this week as part of spending cuts.
He added that some of his friends working in the government sector were concerned that under the new decision, they would lose 11 days of payment.
The Hijri calendar is made up of 12 months of 29 or 30 days, depending on the sighting of the moon. The Hijri year has 354 days, 11 days shorter than the Gregorian year which is made up of 12 months of 30 and 31 days, totaling 365 days in a year.


Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

Updated 24 June 2018
0

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

  • They start their engines and hit the roads throughout the Kingdom
  • End of driving ban is crowning achievement so far of Saudi Vision 2030

Women throughout Saudi Arabia waited for the stroke of midnight, turned the keys in the ignition, fired up their engines — and hit the road to a bright new future.

It was the moment they had waited for since King Salman issued the royal decree on September 26, 2017, to lift the driving ban on women. 

Just after midnight on Saturday and in the first minutes of Sunday, Samah Algosaibi grabbed the keys to her family’s 1959 Corvette C1 and drove out of the driveway of her beach house in Khobar.
“We are witnessing history in the making as we look toward the dawn of a promising future,” said Algosaibi, the first female board member of Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Bros.

“As a businesswoman in Saudi Arabia, I am grateful for the women’s empowerment movement taking place. Today, I am honored to be sitting behind the wheel of change.”

Another woman to hit the road after midnight was Lina Almaeena, a member of the Saudi Shoura Council. “It feels very liberating,” she said about driving her mother’s Lexus.
Almaeena, also the co-founder and director of Jeddah United Sports Co, had exchanged her UAE license for a Saudi one. 

“I am thrilled!” Sarah Alwassia, 35, a nutritionist in Jeddah, told Arab News. “I learnt how to drive 18 years ago in the States where I got my driving license. I can’t believe that the day to drive in my own home town has come.”

Alwassia obtained her first American license when she was 18 years old in 2000, and had it exchanged for a Saudi license on June 6 in Jeddah. She explained that she is a mother, and this change provided comfort for her and her family. It also comes with various benefits, such as taking quick action in emergencies, and economic benefits such as saving money instead of paying for a driver when she needs to run errands. 

“I will be driving my kids to school and picking them up in comfort and privacy,” she said.

Women in the Kingdom commented on how this event is changing the course of their lives. “Independence is a huge thing for me,” Alwassia said. “Driving is one small part of it. I am very optimistic of the change that our loving country has made.”  

Alwassia applauds the efforts the country has made to support women. “I am confident that driving in the beginning will be pleasant, since our country has made all of the effort to support women and to protect them.
“I think our society was looking forward for this change, and I am sure the majority will adapt fast.

“I feel safe, our country did everything to make this transition pleasant and safe for every woman behind the wheel. I am really thankful to witness this historic moment and I am so happy for all the women in Saudi Arabia, especially my daughters.”
Sahar Nasief, 64, a retired lecturer from the European languages and Literature Department at King Abdulaziz University, said: “Nothing could describe my feelings. I can't wait to get on the road.”
Nasief received a very special gift from Ford for this occasion.

“They gave me a 2018 Expedition to drive for three days, a Mustang California Special,” she told Arab News.

Nasief obtained her Saudi license on June 7. She also holds a British license and two American licenses. “Now, I have my national license too,” she said. 

She also said the lifting of the ban provided a sense of relief. “I feel that I can practice one of my rights, and I don't have to live at the mercy of my driver any more.”
Society has been demanding such a change for years, “as it will take the physical and economic burden off most men.”
Pointing to the anti-harassment law, Nasief said: “I feel very confident especially after announcing the strict harassment law.”
Joumana Mattar, 36, a Jordanian interior designer, exchanged her Jordanian driver’s license and obtained a Saudi one on June 11. 

“I had my Jordanian license since I was 18 years old, and the moment I heard about the opening of exchanging foreign licenses, I immediately booked an appointment,” she said.
Mattar said she looks forward to the change in so many ways. “I'm finally in control of my time, schedule and privacy.” 

Mattar said she is both confident and anxious about the event. “I'm anxious only for feeling that I'm part of a huge first step for women driving in the Kingdom, but I'm confident also because of the support that I'm getting from my husband and family.
“Every first step is the hardest. Society is facing a huge change, but I'm positive because this change is done and supported by the government and Vision 2030.”

Mattar said she feels secure now. “I'm in control of any case I'm facing.”

• Download our free #SaudiWomenCanDrive mobile phone background designed by renowned artist Malika Favre: https://startyourengines.21wallpaper.design