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.