Jeddah: It is certainly going to be heart breaking news for many Muslims across the world. Saudi Arabia, the place where Islam was born and took shape has shocked people by announcing to abandon the Islamic Hijri calendar in Government offices.
The government of Saudi Arabia has announced that like the rest of the world it will start following the Gregorian calendar. Reports suggest that the biggest nation in the Middle East that is also the biggest exporter of oil has decided to implement Gregorian calendar in order to make the working month longer for employees. This will also help save some much needed money for the Arab kingdom.
Following the abandoning of the Islamic Hijri calendar, the working month for government sector employees will become longer. There are reports that the decision has been made as part of cost-cutting measures.
The shocking change has been under discussion for quite sometime and has been necessitated by the nose diving oil prices in the world market. To be true, the change was approved by cabinet last week.
A report in the Arab News said that the Gregorian calendar will brings civil service pay in line with the government’s January-December fiscal year.
Saudi Arabia, home to the Islam’s holy cities, is cutting government spending and re-orienting its economy after a collapse over the past two years of the global oil price which provided most of its revenue. The Hijri calender consists of 12 months of 29 or 30 days depending on the sighting of the moon, meaning the Islamic year is several days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, which is widely used in the world. Last week, cabinet also cut by 20 per cent the salaries of ministers and froze the wages of lower-ranked civil servants.
It is well known fact that almost twice as many Saudis are employed in the bloated public sector — where hours are shorter and leave longer — than in private firms. In April, the king’s son, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, announced the wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy. Among its goals, Vision 2030 aims to boost private sector employment, cutting the government payroll to 40pc of the budget from 45pc by 2020.
Saudi government is trying to manage its economy better. It is fighting a brutal and very expensive war in the neighboring Yemen where its supported government is facing a tough war against Shia Houtis who control the embattled nation’s capital Sana.