August 14
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Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are increasing public welfare spending by billions of dollars in a bid to protect their citizens from rising costs of living, Reuters reported.

The UAE is doubling the financial support it provides to low-income families in the Emirates to 28 billion dirhams ($7.6 billion) to help them cope with rising inflation, while King Salman of Saudi Arabia ordered 20 billion riyals (5 .33 billion dollars). The kingdom will reopen registration for the program, known as the Citizens Account, and will provide it with 8 billion riyals in additional funding by the end of the year. Another 2 billion riyals will go towards one-time payments to social insurance recipients and 408 million riyals for a small livestock support program.

The UAE's expanded budgetary allocations include an increase in existing allowances and the creation of new ones aimed at mitigating the impact of inflation on food prices, as well as rising fuel and energy costs for households. Some of the new benefits include financial support for university students and the unemployed over 45.

James Swanston of Capital Economics said the spending increase is equivalent to 0.6% of Saudi Arabia's GDP and 1.8% of UAE GDP.

Given the size of the spending increase, the overall impact on public finances will be relatively small and we expect both countries to continue to run large budget surpluses this year, he added.

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