Saudi King Abdullah announced on Friday billions of dollars in handouts for his people and boosted his security apparatus in a renewed effort to shield the world’s top oil exporter from unrest rocking the Arab world.
In a rare televised address to the nation, the aging king made a brief statement congratulating Saudis for their loyalty and national unity before a battery of decrees were read out suggesting he was embracing increasingly conservative policies.
Amongst a wave of new spending, the decrees outlined a boost in welfare benefits, bonuses for public sector workers, including the army, and a massive drive to build new housing.
In addition, the king ordered the creation of 60,000 security jobs within the interior ministry, promised more money for the religious police and, in a sign Saudi’s ruling Sunni elite will tolerate no dissent, said the media must respect clerics. Agencies
Saudi Arabia has mostly avoided the protests seen elsewhere in the region, but dissent has nonetheless built up and some demonstrations have taken place — especially in the east where many Shi’ite Muslims live. Agencies