Saudi, the origin of Islamic religion, containing Mecca – the Islam’s holiest site – has dumped Islamic calendar on Sunday for the western Gregorian calendar, bringing the oil-rich kingdom in line with many of its energy customers. But the real reason is the need to conserve funds, according Saudi Arabian sources.
Saudi Arabia, like other oil exporting countries, is facing an unprecedented cash squeeze, with the government slamming salary cuts all over. The Islamic lunar calendar is actually 15 days shorter than the 365 days solar year.
The calculation is that the measure will save the kingdom money by cutting salary days for many public servants. The kingdom began the use of Islamic calendar since it was founded in 1932, Al Arabiya local news reported. Saudi workers will now need to work more days to earn salaries already sliced by government.
The decision came after the cabinet announced last week the reduction of salaries of ministers and Shura members (advisors). It was part of an austerity package, including cancellation and amendment of civil servants’ allowances and rewards, such as cancelling the annual bonus.
Saudi Arabia has taken a series of steps to deal with the dropping oil prices in global
markets. In Nigeria, the state governments of Kano, Sokoto and Oyo have declared special holiday to mark the Islamic year, which began on 3 October.
While Kano has declared Tuesday, Oyo state has made Monday a double holiday, one for Nigeria’s Independence and the other to mark the Islamic New Year, 1438 AH.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi made the declaration on Sunday at the 1438 Hijrah Grand Rally organised by the National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO) at Ibadan. October 3 is the lunar month of Muharram, which is the first month of the Islamic calendar.