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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has approved the use of the Gregorian calendar for all official dealings, except those related to the provisions of Islamic Shariah where the calculation of periods will continue to be based on the Hijri calendar.
The Saudi Cabinet, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, made the decision on Tuesday.
The Kingdom has traditionally prioritized the Hijri calendar with the Gregorian used as a secondary measure. However, some official and legal activities had already been aligned with the Gregorian calendar before Tuesday’s ruling.
Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, a professor of law at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, said the decision was a “good move” for business.
“The Saudi Council of Ministers’ decision to adopt the Gregorian calendar in all official dealings, procedures regulations and transactions is a welcome move since all other countries use this calendar in all their laws, transactions and procedures,” he told Arab News.
The move would “make it easier for foreigners visiting Saudi Arabia and doing business in the Kingdom to rely on one single calendar not two as was the case before, which caused a level of confusion and discrepancy,” he said.
“Also, Saudis … will have it easier now when dealing with foreign partners.”
Banker and financial analyst Talat Zaki Hafiz described the decision as “very wise” as the Kingdom continued to open up to the global business community.
Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product grew by 8.7 percent last year, the highest of all the Group of 20 leading and developing nations.
“Doing business by the Gregorian calendar is in harmony with what the whole world is practicing and will further boost business,” Hafiz said, adding that the Saudi banking sector was already using the Gregorian calendar for all of its transactions.
The Hijri or “Islamic” calendar measures the year as being 354 or 355 days in length, 10 or 11 days shorter than in the Gregorian calendar.
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