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Saudi Arabia gives $800m in Ramadan social security aid

People, Person, Adult Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto/Reuters
The extra social security payment has been deposited directly into Saudi bank accounts, on the basis of SAR1,000 per head of household and SAR500 for each dependent
  • One-off payment to 500,000 Saudis
  • Heads of families get SAR1,000
  • Bonus coincides with price increases

Saudi Arabia has disbursed SAR3 billion ($800 million) to around 500,000 Saudis as a one-off social security payment during the fasting month of Ramadan. 

The amounts were deposited directly into bank accounts of beneficiaries of social security by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, on the basis of SAR1,000 ($270) per head of household and SAR500 ($135) for each dependent, the Saudi Press Agency said. 

The agency did not give more details, but if an average family contains husband, wife and three children, this would equal 100,000 disbursements of SAR3,000 ($800), or 500,000 people. 

The 2022 census put the average Saudi family size at 4.8, and the Saudi population as 18.75 million among a total population of 32 million.  

A recent UN report on poverty reviewing the period 2010 to 2021 said that Saudi Arabia had the highest rate of poverty in the Gulf region, at 13.6 percent among Saudi nationals. 

But it noted that “poverty fell from 18.2 percent in 2010 to 13.6 percent in 2021, lifting 483,000 Saudi nationals from poverty”. 

The report recommended a series of measures including fiscal reforms to diversify the revenue base, improved targeting of social spending, better public procurement policies and investing in skills. 

In October the ministry raised the social security pension 20 percent to SAR1,320 ($350), with a cap of SAR5,000 ($1,333) per household. 

The government aid could help Saudis manage higher prices during Ramadan, which ends around April 10. 

“The price hike will slightly impact the consumers belonging to a lower income group,” said Akshay Jayaprakasan, a Dubai-based associate partner at research company Redseer Consulting.

The attacks on ships in the Red Sea has led to a surge in prices for high-ticket items such as electronics and home appliances, but Redseer’s research said these items had seen muted interest during the holy month.

The Saudi government is encouraging Saudis to spend recreational time inside the country to spend on sports, entertainment and tourism as part of its drive to transform the economy away from reliance on oil.

A series of major sports events have been held in recent months and giga-project developer Seven is due to open a series of entertainment cities around the country from 2025.

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