KSA switches to Gregorian calendar

KSA switches to Gregorian calendar
Banks are prepared for the change.
Updated 03 October 2016

KSA switches to Gregorian calendar

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 ban remains on 20 countries when flights resume on May 17

Saudi ban remains on 20 countries when flights resume on May 17
Updated 12 min 25 sec ago

Saudi ban remains on 20 countries when flights resume on May 17

Saudi ban remains on 20 countries when flights resume on May 17
  • Health Ministry reports 1,028 new coronavirus cases, 824 recoveries, 12 deaths

JEDDAH: The resumption of international flights at 1 a.m. on May 17 will exclude the 20 countries where the ban on flights continues as part of preventive measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), said Saudia airline.
The banned countries, named by the Ministry of Interior, are: Argentina, the UAE, Germany, the US, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, Egypt, India and Japan.
The clarification came in response to a citizen’s query about whether the travel suspensions will continue.
Noncitizens, diplomats, health practitioners and their families traveling from the listed countries have been denied entry to the Kingdom since Feb. 3. The ban applies to arriving passengers who have passed through any of the prohibited countries in the 14 days prior to their application to enter the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Education employees who have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are to be identified and put on a list, Saudi online newspaper Ajel reported.
The decision is part of official efforts to ensure a swift return to normal schooling, while safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff.
Education Minister Hamad Al-Asheikh previously called on ministry employees to arrange for vaccination in time for the start of the coming academic year.
Saudi authorities on Wednesday reported 12 additional deaths related to COVID-19. The death toll now stands at 6,858. The Ministry of Health reported 1,028 new cases, meaning that 408,038 people have contracted the disease, of which 9,818 remain active.
It said 431 of the new cases were in Riyadh, 220 in Makkah, 157 in the Eastern Province and 45 in Madinah. Another 824 patients recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries to 391,362.
Saudi Arabia has conducted 16,352,116 PCR tests, including 58,507 in the previous 24 hours.
Saudi health clinics set up by the ministry as testing hubs or treatment centers have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the Kingdom since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Saudis and expats in the Kingdom continue to receive coronavirus vaccine shots, with 7,537,798 people having been inoculated so far.


DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Pakistan ambassador meets Eastern Province governor

DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Pakistan ambassador meets Eastern Province governor
Updated 49 min 50 sec ago

DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Pakistan ambassador meets Eastern Province governor

DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Pakistan ambassador meets Eastern Province governor

Pakistani Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz called on Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif on the occasion of the end of his diplomatic duty in Riyadh.
The governor welcomed the ambassador at a reception, and they talked about the good relations between the two countries and various ways to further enhance mutual cooperation, said the Pakistani Embassy.
Ejaz thanked Prince Saud for the warm hospitality extended to him, and expressed his gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for rendering all assistance to Pakistani expatriates during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The ambassador also thanked Prince Saud for his support, and for looking after Pakistani expatriates residing in the province. “The Pakistani populace was very happy under the governor’s kind patronage,” Ejaz told Arab News.
Prince Saud praised the Pakistani community for being loyal and hard-working, and said the two countries and peoples have cemented an unbreakable bond of friendship.
He expressed certainty that bilateral relations will continue to grow, wishing Ejaz well for his future assignments and looking forward to maintaining contact.
Offering his thanks to all those who helped him carry out his work successfully, Ejaz said Saudi Arabia is a wonderful country in which he had a wonderful experience serving his compatriots.
He added that his successful stint in the Kingdom was mainly due to the continuous cooperation received from the Saudi government, the private sector and his colleagues.


NEOM launches 3 initiatives to support UN Sustainable Development Goals

NEOM launches 3 initiatives to support UN Sustainable Development Goals
Updated 22 April 2021

NEOM launches 3 initiatives to support UN Sustainable Development Goals

NEOM launches 3 initiatives to support UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • The initiatives were launched to celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Day
  • Department will work alongside MiSK Leadership, CyberX and Digital Giving programs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s NEOM, a futuristic $500 billion megacity development, announced on Wednesday that it has launched three initiatives represented by the Social Responsibility Department.
The initiatives aim to support the sustainable development goals, celebrate the World Creativity and Innovation Day, and encourage the participation of the local community in developing innovative solutions that would support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The department said that it will work alongside the MiSK Leadership, CyberX and Digital Giving programs, and with the University of Tabuk and the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, to launch these initiatives.
The first initiative is represented in the third batch of the Spark initiative and includes an innovative six-week training program designed to enhance the spirit of entrepreneurship among Saudi youth, the department said in a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency.
It introduces participants to the critical steps involved in starting a business and supports them with the necessary tools to form bright business ideas. From there, participants can turn them into vivid and realistic businesses for a sustainable future, in order for them to be able to present them to investors later.
The program is in support of the Kingdom’s drive to increase the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in driving economic growth.
Last year, two batches of the program were successfully launched, benefiting 300 graduates, including 10 winners who passed the final round of Spark Tank.
The second initiative is the NEOM Generation Innovation Challenge, which will be held in partnership with the Industrial and Robot Innovation Center at the University of Tabuk. It involves challenging students from all over the Kingdom to present their ideas in the fields of water, energy, media, entertainment, transportation, health and food.
The ideas and their solutions must be centralized using artificial intelligence (AI) systems and be implementable in NEOM’s corresponding sectors. The participants will be evaluated based on their creativity, AI integration, and the extent to which their ideas align with NEOM’s approaches.
The third initiative is the CyberX Bootcamps, a non-profit platform for electronic awareness and digital knowledge under the supervision of the Digital Giving initiative. A training camp on AI and machine learning for youth will be held.
The department said it will spread awareness of the SDGs and provide opportunities for the local community to learn and gain important knowledge on sustainable development through quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, sustainable cities and societies, as well as partnerships to achieve the goals.


Saudi aviation authority tightens COVID-19 controls at airports

The General Authority of Civil Aviation calls on everyone to adhere to the COVID-19 preventative measures. (SPA)
The General Authority of Civil Aviation calls on everyone to adhere to the COVID-19 preventative measures. (SPA)
Updated 22 April 2021

Saudi aviation authority tightens COVID-19 controls at airports

The General Authority of Civil Aviation calls on everyone to adhere to the COVID-19 preventative measures. (SPA)
  • GACA introduced screening points and appointed observers to ensure measures are fully implemented

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s aviation authority, in cooperation with security services, has stepped up inspections and control visits to airports and other authority buildings and facilities to monitor violations of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has also introduced screening points to measure temperatures or check health data through the Tawakkalna app. It has also appointed a protocol officer for each facility and more than 250 observers to ensure that precautionary measures are fully implemented and followed.
In addition, GACA said it has increased educational awareness messages, and told businesses and other organizations operating in airports to adhere to health precautions.
GACA President Abdulaziz Al-Duaij stressed the importance of continuing to adhere to safety protocols set by the Ministry of Health — including wearing face masks at all times, continuous sterilization efforts, procedures to prevent overcrowding, and maintaining social distancing — and warned against complacency.
He said that only individuals registered with the Tawakkalna app will be allowed entry to authority buildings. He urged everyone to follow “the recommended health measures in order to preserve the gains achieved in combating the coronavirus” in the Kingdom which, he added, would not have been achieved without “the generous support from the Saudi leadership that placed citizens’ health and safety first and foremost.”
GACA added that it is working with the Ministry of Health to implement precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus at airports, and has put in place a package of health measures that meet global health and safety standards.


Saudi aid agency delivers $1.5 million medical aid package to Pakistan

Saudi aid agency delivers $1.5 million medical aid package to Pakistan
Updated 21 April 2021

Saudi aid agency delivers $1.5 million medical aid package to Pakistan

Saudi aid agency delivers $1.5 million medical aid package to Pakistan

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has delivered a special medical aid package worth $1.5 million to help combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pakistan.
The consignment was officially handed over — on behalf of the center — by the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, to Akhtar Nawaz, chairman of the Pakistani National Disaster Management Authority, at the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad.
Items included 25,000 sterile surgical suits, 125,000 nonsterile surgical suits, 188,000 KN95 masks, 1,925,000 surgical masks, 9,500 nitrile gloves, and 46 respirators.
Nawaz thanked KSrelief for the medical equipment which he said would help his country’s fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. Saudi Arabia, through KSrelief, supports numerous health programs around the world aimed at tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.