The birthplace of Islam containing Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, shifted to the western Gregorian calendar on Sunday, bringing the oil-rich kingdom in line with many of its energy customers.
The Islamic lunar calendar is actually 15 days shorter than the 365-day solar year which will actually 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.
But austerity measures and the need to conserve funds caused the shift. The Saudi workers will now need to work more days to earn the salaries already sliced by government.
Now government employees will get less annual salaries than they used to receive. 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 government in Kano has earmarked Tuesday 5 October, as a special holiday to mark the Islamic year, which began on 1 October.