The Islamic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has switched from the lunar-based Islamic calendar, which starts with the emigration of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina, to the “Western” Gregorian calendar, named after Pope Gregory XIII and based on Jesus Christ’s birth. The decision, taken during a recent cabinet session chaired by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, is an austerity measure to deal with its budget deficit, according to reports, which say the drop in crude oil prices

beginning 2014 has hit the world’s top oil exporter hard. The Muslim calendar, also known as Hijri, loses some 11 days a year so that Islamic holy days rotate around the seasons every 32 years, according to Gulf News, which also said the move will lead to civil servants losing 11 days of payment with salary days being cut. Earlier, only the private sector used the Gregorian calendar of its oil customers to calculate salaries. READ MORE