‘Citizen Account Program’ to help Saudis face economic changes

Updated 13 December 2017

‘Citizen Account Program’ to help Saudis face economic changes

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development announced the details of the Citizen Account Program to help low- and middle-income families cope with the changes happening as a result of the coming economic reforms.

The Citizen Account Program is a national program created to protect Saudi households from expected direct and indirect impacts of the various economic reforms. The support is offered through direct cash transfers to beneficiaries.

With a view to reorienting government benefits to a deserving population segment in a manner that promotes and ensures rational consumption, the main aims of this program are to improve the level of services provided to citizens; raise the efficiency of government spending and operation; and target deserving citizens more transparently and effectively.

The support compensates for the increase in prices as a result of the correction in electricity and gasoline prices, and the application of VAT on food and beverage commodities.

These allowances will be reviewed every three months to ensure that the amount of the benefit meets the requirements of the households according to the changes.

The program’s policies stipulate that the beneficiary should be a Saudi citizen, that the beneficiary is not residing in any of the government shelters or prisons, and that the data given on the registration form should be consistent with that of the relevant authorities.

According to the general manager of the Citizen Account Program, Ali Rajehi, the amount of the supporting allowance is based on the composition of the family and the number of members, age of the dependents, and the family’s income.

The amount of support to beneficiaries will vary according to the changing economic conditions of the household. There are some factors that will affect the amount of support, such as the change in world oil prices and their impact on locally applied prices.

According to Minister of Labor Ali bin Nasser Ghafis, there are more than 13 million beneficiaries registered in the Citizen Account. The first deposit to the citizens’ accounts will be made starting December 21, 2017, and will be accompanied by the announcement of the amounts and other details.

Saudi Arabia to inaugurate National Theater Initiative

Updated 4 min 19 sec ago

Saudi Arabia to inaugurate National Theater Initiative

  • The ceremony will see the opening performance of the play Daraish Al-Nour (Windows of Light)
  • The initiative is one of many projects from the Saudi Ministry of Culture

RIYADH: The curtain has risen on an ambitious new era for Saudi theater — and its future looks bright, if the launch of the National Theater Initiative at the King Fahd Cultural Center on Tuesday night is any indication. The evening’s entertainment began with a speech from Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, in which he offered his thanks for the “unprecedented” level of support for the theatrical arts the ministry has received, especially from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. “The theater is the father of arts, and we have great expectations regarding the future of the art of theater in Saudi Arabia,” he said. “We want Saudi Arabia to be a leader in the field.”

Abdulaziz Ismail, president of the National Theater Initiative, highlighted the importance of theater in Saudi culture and said that the new scheme represents a great step forward for the art form. “Our culture will be reborn through this historic moment,” he said. “We are going to express our culture through our theater.” The event continued with the first staging of the musical play “Daraish Al-Nour” (Windows of Light). Written by poet Saleh Zamanan and directed by Fatees Baqna, it features a cast of local actors including Naif Khalaf, Khaled Saqr and Ibrahim Al-Hassawi. The play explores Saudi culture, past and present, and includes a number of pop-culture and historical references that older audiences in particular will appreciate. The music evokes feelings of nostalgia without seeming overly dated, and even the style of directing recalls and pays tribute to the glory days of Saudi theater. The cast perform their roles beautifully, and if the audience’s reaction on Tuesday night was anything to go by, they made a great impression. Applause, cheers and whistles rang out through the theater at the end of every act, whether the scene on stage was a cheerful, traditional Saudi dance, or a more intense, dramatic scene full of angst. Lovers of Arabic theater, and especially of old Saudi plays, will delight in this spectacular first offering from the theater initiative. The stage of the King Fahd Cultural Center is used to its absolute fullest potential, with light, sound, color and space all perfectly employed. The script balances humor and lightheartedness with bittersweet and even tragic moments. One scene features a wedding celebration that is interrupted by the once-terrifying religious police, who storm into the celebration and, in a shocking moment, destroy an oud. But even before they saw the play, many people were already moved by the promise of the evening and what it represents as another step in the resurgence of art and culture in the Kingdom, and the wider development of the country. Bader Al-Zahrani immediately volunteered to be an organizer for the initiative when he read about it on Twitter. “I think it’s a wonderful initiative from the Ministry of Culture,” he said. “Seeing the adverts on Twitter, I knew that this play was something I definitely wanted to see. I want to thank the ministry for this great initiative.” There is a second performance of “Daraish Al-Nour” at 8 p.m. tonight, and free tickets are available from www.moc.gov.sa. Theater is one of one of 16 areas in which the ministry is working to preserve and advance Saudi culture. The theater initiative aims to provide Saudi directors, playwrights and actors with a high-quality integrated system that will offer better opportunities and improve standards of quality.