The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia now runs on the “Western” Gregorian calendar.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has switched from the lunar-centric Hijri calendar to solar-centric Gregorian calendar for all its staff working in the public sector. The kingdom has used the Hijri system from 1932, the year the House of Saud began to administer the kingdom. The changes became effective from October 1. The change is one of the many financial reforms which were announced by Council of Ministers.

Civil servants will suffer an 11 day loss of pay. This is due to the cut in salary days and the distinctiveness of the Hijri calendar system. Although the year is made of 12 months, the total number of days is 11 less than the Gregorian one. The lunar calendar takes its first year as AD 622, the year when Muhammad made his pilgrimage to Medina from Mecca.

In one stroke, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia literally jumped into the modern age. This step was first announced in April by Muhammad bin Salman, the Saudi deputy crown prince. He gave the jump a name: Vision 2030. His cabinet has already started following the solar one.

There has already been a backlash over the move. Puritans were first wrested of their control of public space and now they are out of time too. The Wahhabi clergy, who believes that only the words of Muhammad be followed, now ask the rulers whether they should switch over to the Christian system. The clergy further went on to ask if the fasting month for Ramadan will be forgotten. They say that the authorities are moving back to the jahiliyyah age, or according to them, pre-Islamic era of ignorance. Another clerical bastion, the judiciary, continues to insist on sentencing miscreants as per the old calendar.

The move is one the many cost slashing measures which are being adopted by Saudi authorities under the stewardship of King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz. Bonus payments due to be given to public sector employees were canceled. Ministers too suffered a loss of pat. There was a 20 percent cut in their salaries. There will be no increase in wages and allowances for government employees were also cut. These were announced by royal decrees. The state media also published a cabinet statement announcing the same.

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