Saudi King Giving Away Billions of Dollars

Welcome to “How to Get People to Like You 101” with Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Step one: Dole out billions of dollars to normal, working-class people via royal decree.  “It is party time for Saudi Arabia right now,” John Sfakianakis, the Riyadh-based Middle East director of the Ashmore Group, an investment company, told the The New York Times. Sfakianakis estimates the King will give away around 32 billion.

After taking the throne last month, King Salman is making it rain grants, electricity investments, and straight cash in the form of bonuses reportedly worth two months salary. Most of the money is going to people in all parts of government — both big and small — since more than half of the 5.5 million Saudi Arabian’s in the work force are government employees.

And people are wasting no time spending the King’s generous gift. It’s #TreatYoSelf day on steroids. New cell phones, gold necklaces, handbags, and trips abroad are just a few of the many ways people are using the new influx of cash. Even places as random as camping supply stores expect a nearly 30 percent jump in sales.

Being the world’s top oil exporter certainly has its perks, and this isn’t the first time the monarchy has lavished gifts onto its citizens. The recently deceased King Abdullah raised government salaries 15 percent after his coronation in 2005.

The Saudi's have a history of giving the population bonuses and gifts during times of upheaval (like a regime change). The last bonus came during the Arab Spring, in hopes of staving off revolts. After the overthrow of the Egyptian government, the Saudi king gave out grants, bonuses and raises to the tune of 37 billion dollars, according to the Wharton School of Business.

Of course, all the extra money in the world doesn't make the ban on women driving or going out without a male chaperone acceptable.


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