Saudi Arabia to begin five-day lockdown

Following the quadrupling of COVID-19 cases since late April, Saudi Arabia will today impose a complete five-day lockdown. The lockdown

Masked Saudis in the Qatif region

Photo: Reuters/Stringer

Following the quadrupling of COVID-19 cases since late April, Saudi Arabia will today impose a complete five-day lockdown.

The lockdown coincides with Eid celebrations, which mark the end of the month-long Ramadan fast. In late April, the Kingdom eased its 9-to-5 curfew, allowed construction companies and factories to resume work and reopened shopping malls, which contributed to the spike in COVID-19 cases. The Kingdom now has the highest number of cases in the Gulf, where total cases have increased since Ramadan.

The current lockdown is a step forward in combating the virus, although public health is not likely to remain Saudi Arabia’s foremost priority in the near future, as the global devaluation of oil poses a threat to the Kingdom’s long-term economic wellbeing and political stability.

Expect Saudi Arabia’s $26.6 billion budget cut to decrease investment in Saudi Vision 2030, an ambitious economic diversification project that includes a $500 billion futuristic city. The Kingdom is also terminating certain public benefits and raising previously low tax rates, both of which have been crucial in preventing popular opposition during politically turbulent times such as the Arab Spring.

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