International

Saudi King Offers His People Money, Changes

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz addressing the nation via state-run television in Riyadh. i i

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz addressing the nation via state-run television in Riyadh. AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption AFP/Getty Images
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz addressing the nation via state-run television in Riyadh.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz addressing the nation via state-run television in Riyadh.

AFP/Getty Images

In a rare televised speech, Saudi Arabia's king said he was enacting a $67 billion package that included raises and loans for Saudis.

The AP called King Abdullah's offer, "the Arab world's most expensive attempt to appease residents inspired by the unrest that has swept two leaders from power."

Reuters reports on the details of the package:

Amongst a wave of new spending, the decrees outlined a boost in welfare benefits, bonuses for public sector workers, including the army, and a massive drive to build new housing.
In addition, the king ordered the creation of 60,000 security jobs within the interior ministry, promised more money for the religious police and, in a sign Saudi's ruling Sunni elite will tolerate no dissent, said the media must respect clerics.

Protests in Saudi Arabia have been small in comparison to what's been going on in other parts of the Arab world, and especially in comparison to the weeks of protests that have overtaken their neighbor, Bahrain.

King Abdullah's chnages, reports the AP, do not loosen the monarchy's grip on the country, which is a demand of the opposition. Bloomberg spoke to a financial analyst who said the reforms will do little but buy the King time:

"This will certainly buy the regime time," Rawad Hakme, portfolio manager at EFG Hermes U.A.E. Ltd, said by e-mail today. "Economically speaking these measures may resolve things to a certain extent, but ultimately people are hungry for democracy which money can't buy."

Today's announcement comes after one in February, when the king announced a $36 billion package.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.