Cairo: Saudi Arabia has approved using the Gregorian calendar in all official dealings amid growing openness to the outside world.
The approval was made on Tuesday at a Cabinet meeting chaired by Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammad bin Salman.
The Council of Ministers agreed to calculate all duration in official procedures and transactions on the basis of the Gregorian calendar.
Exceptions are made to duration linked to the Islamic Sharia rulings based on calculations according to the lunar Hijiri calendar, or if an explicit text is stipulated of calculating the duration on the basis of the Hijiri calendar.
In 2012, Saudi Arabia banned the government and private agencies from using the Gregorian calendar in official dealings. At the time, all ministries and agencies were obligated to stick to the Hijri dates and the Arabic language.
They were, nonetheless, allowed to use the Gregorian calendar, if the need arose, provided it was associated with the corresponding Hijri date.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has experienced dramatic socio-economic changes. The kingdom is home to a large community of expat workers.
Last May, the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, citing a recent census, put the kingdom’s total population at 32.2 million with foreigners making up around 13.4 million or 41.5 per cent.
Asian nationals from three countries accounted for over 42 per cent of the total foreigners in Saudi Arabia, according to the census figures.
Bangladeshi nationals took the lead with 2.1 million, or around 15.08 per cent of the overall expatriates in Saudi Arabia, followed by Indians with 1.88 million and Pakistanis with 1.81 million, a breakdown given by the Saudi state TV Al Ekhbariya showed.
Yemenis ranked the fourth in expatriate terms with 1.8 million followed by Egyptians with 1.4 million, Sudanese with 819,000, Filipinos with 725,000 and Syrians with 449,000.