Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah receives religious scholars, citizens and officials in Riyadh on Sunday. (SPA)
By ARAB NEWS
Published: Feb 28, 2011 00:09 Updated: Feb 28, 2011 00:10
RIYADH/JEDDAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah on Tuesday received princes, Islamic scholars and a group of citizens who came to greet him following his safe return after a three-month-long medical trip abroad.
In an extempore speech, King Abdullah thanked all those who prayed for his quick recovery. “May Allah bless all of you,” he said, and asked his well wishers to excuse him for not shaking hands with them.
“It (shaking hands) is an important thing for me. Forgive me for not doing it. God is Magnificent,” the king told his audience. “I take this opportunity to thank all of you who visited me here as well as those who are in their homes and in different countries. … I would like to express my sincere love and affection for all of you, including the elderly, women and children.”
Addressing the reception, Abdul Rahman Al-Ghazzi, a member of the Supreme Judiciary Council, commended King Abdullah for his efforts in the service of the country and the Islamic Ummah.
Earlier, King Abdullah ordered to make the status of temporary government employees permanent. The order will benefit close to 180,000 employees currently working in various government departments and projects.
“All Saudi men and women employed under special employment clauses and receiving their pay from the state budget have been made permanent in their jobs,” the king said in his order.
The order also covered those working in various government departments and receiving pay from funds outside the budget, such as the students’ fund, funds for shelters and endowment, as well as those who are working on contracts in community service colleges and continuous education centers.
Thousands of beneficiaries have expressed their gratitude to the king for his gesture through websites and blogs. Some bloggers prayed for the long life and good health of the king.
The order will upgrade the status of these workers and enable them enjoy the benefits and prerogatives entitled to government employees.
“The latest order is the culmination of the government’s efforts over the past two years to study the issues of the employees working on a temporary basis,” a source told Arab News.
“King Abdullah is keen on the wellbeing of the citizens. Several committees have been set up to study and solve the issues of temporary workers. However, this final order has come at the right moment,” the source said.
A temporary Saudi worker in a municipal project said he would soon get married and raise a family.
“I believe that the latest royal order guarantees a dignified life for me and many others like me because we will be getting a fixed and decent salary with all other perks accompanying a permanent job. We will also be eligible for bank loans and pensions.”
The new order will not only strengthen the various government departments but also boost the economy. Sayyed Al-Imam, a businessman, said: “The royal gesture will encourage the beneficiaries to work hard and change their attitude toward work,” he said.
It will also enable the beneficiaries to purchase cars or homes and furniture on installment and apply for bank loans. “This will definitely have a good impact on economy.”
Khaled Al-Harbi described the king’s order as a big morale booster for the temporary employees, including teachers and municipality workers. “I am sure that it would encourage these workers to put more efforts for the development of the country.”
The Shoura Council, meanwhile, congratulated King Abdullah on his safe return to the country after his surgery in the United States and period of convalescence in Morocco.
The Shoura meeting on Sunday, presided over by its Chairman Abdullah Al-Asheikh, was the advisory council’s first session after the king’s return on Wednesday. In statement issued following the session, the council said the spirit of joy and enthusiasm shown by the people over the safe return of the king truly portrayed the love and affection they have for the monarch.
The council commended the king’s gesture unveiling a package of incentives to help citizens in all walks of life, particularly the unemployed youths, to lead a decent life.
While reviewing the annual report of the Human Resources Development Fund, the council said that all young Saudi adults should be given proper vocational training to take up new jobs in the private sector, the council’s Secretary-General Muhammad Al-Ghamdi said after the meeting.
In other decisions, the house approved an agreement between the Kingdom and Japan on avoidance of double taxation. The agreement which includes 30 articles will help Japan to make investments in high-tech projects in the Kingdom with protection for Japanese investors.
— Md Humaidan & Md Rasooldeen contributed to this report.