The citizens of Saudi Arabia have been offered hard cash and soft debt relief in exchange for not participating in the current wave of democratic revolutions.
(Al Jazeera) Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has announced a series of benefits for citizens amounting to $10.7 billion, as he returned to the country after he spent three months abroad for health treatment, state television reported.Everything here smells of the State Department. It so easy to imagine: Obama made a call to the king and told him what is what. Abdullah had to do something meaningful right away—cash or representation. And if the king picked cash, it had to be substantial. This was no time to play games with the people. 15 percent increase in pay and some social benefits for the youth was picked as the price for maintaining power and peace. It's fitting that the king freed financial criminals and not political activists.
The steps, announced on Wednesday, include funding to offset high inflation and to aid young unemployed people and Saudi citizens studying abroad, as well the writing off some loans.
The move comes as governments in the region scramble to deal with pro-democracy uprisings sparked by youth unemployment and political repression.
As part of the Saudi scheme, state employees will see their incomes increase by 15 percent, and additional cash has also been made available for housing loans.
No political reforms were announced as part of the package, though the 86-year-old monarch did pardon some prisoners indicted in financial crimes.