Saudi sports stadiums to open doors to women for first time


State employees will receive monthly payments of 1,000 riyals (about $US266).

Reuters/Faisal Ai NasserSaudi Minister of Finance Mohammed al-Jadaan speaks during the Euromoney Saudi Arabia Conference 2017 in Riyadh, Saudi.

He ordered a 5000-riyal (R16 400) bonus for soldiers fighting in Yemen and granted Saudis working for the state an extra 1000 riyals a month as a "cost of living" allowance for a year.

"The allocation of 50 billion riyals for this decree indicates the leadership's concern for the people's comfort and quality of living", Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad, the Minister of Culture and Information told local media. The measures will likely be cheered by Saudis who took to social media and television to criticise surging prices and the implementation of a 5% Value-Added Tax on a wide array of products as of January 1.

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The King's payment plan hopes to compensate for a recent 5% tax increase on basic goods like food and utilities, and for almost doubling the cost of gasoline. The government did not announce how much money it expected to make from the gasoline price hike, but previous statements by officials have suggested it would be in the tens of billions of riyals.

The government also announced plans to cut perks to royal family members, which angered many members of Saudi's elites. Security services on Thursday arrested 11 princes after they staged a palace protest in the capital Riyadh over the non-payment of their electricity and water bills, the attorney-general said.

In early June, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar, accusing Doha of supporting terrorism and destabilizing the Middle East, while Qatar, for its part, slammed the measures as unjustified, stressing that they are based on false claims and assumptions.

Shares in Saudi petrochemical producer PetroRabigh climbed 3.0 percent after the company said that of 12 units in its Phase II expansion, 10 had achieved production in line with specifications and the remaining two would start up in the current quarter.