Saudi king unveils reforms ahead of return

19:01, February 23, 2011      

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Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz announced a range of economic reforms that included housing and other benefits for Saudis ahead of his return from several months abroad for health treatment, state TV said Wednesday.

Abdullah ordered that 40 billion riyals (about 10.7 billion U.S. dollars) to be injected into the country's development fund, the state-run TV reported.

The economic reforms also included a decision to make a 15 percent cost of living allowance permanent for government employees and a year of unemployment assistance for youth.

The announcements also included funding for literary clubs, students studying abroad and social security funds.

Abdullah, the ruler of the world's biggest oil exporter, left for the United States on Nov. 22 and has underwent a successful back surgery.

On Jan. 22, Abdullah arrived in Casablanca to recuperate after undergoing back surgery in the United States.

Abdullah flew out of Morocco on Wednesday and headed home to Riyadh after recovering from the surgery.

He is due to receive a royal welcome on his return to Riyadh where the streets have already been decorated with national flags.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia, ruled by a Sunni monarchy and home to a small Shiite community, has been anxiously watching the developments in its smaller neighbor Bahrain.

Source: Xinhua
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