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WATCH: Saudi officer arrested for patrolling Mecca streets on camel due to 'high petrol cost'

The officer was arrested by police in Mecca [Twitter]

Date of publication: 25 July, 2020

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Saudi police were quick to arrest a security officer for patrolling the streets of Mecca on a camel, videos circulating online showed.
A Saudi security officer was arrested and caused a stir in the kingdom for going back to basics in the holy Muslim Mecca city this week, opting to drop his car for a camel.

Videos that circulated online showed the man riding the camel through the streets of Mecca while in full uniform during a security patrol. 

In one video, at least three police cars arrive at the scene to question the man, who by that point had dismounted his camel to discuss the incident.

When asked why he had ditched the vehicle for the animal, the man allegedly complained of the high cost of petrol in the kingdom.

The incident comes as Saudi Arabia's finance minister suggested the kingdom is mulling the introduction of income tax and sale of assets in a bid to weather one of its worst economic crises in years.

Mohammed Al-Jadaan told Bloomberg that he was "considering all options" to deal with a huge government deficit caused by the coronavirus crisis and low oil prices.

While the introduction of the tax was "not imminent" and "would require a lot of time" to roll out, the government was not ruling "anything out", he said.

The introduction of an income tax is a highly controversial subject in Saudi Arabia, where citizens are accustomed to a generous welfare state and generally high salaries in the public sector, financed by oil sales.

A massive drop in demand for oil this year due to the coronavirus epidemic has hit prices hard and reduced the government’s income.

Saudi Arabia's economy could shrink by 6.8 percent in 2020, as lockdowns and retail closures have affected the kingdom's private sector.

Among the options open to the government after massive amounts of borrowing and depleting reserves is the sale of state assets, the minister said.

The privatisation of parts of the education, health and utilities sectors could raise as much as 50 billion riyals ($13 billion), Al-Jadaan said.

The part privatisation of Saudi-energy giant Aramco has been a disappointment for many in the kingdom, who believed the sale should have taken place in a better environment for oil.

Read also: Saudi Arabia pushes plans to transform Riyadh into 15 million person metropolis

Despite the comments by the kingdom’s finance minister, Saudi state media was quick to deny the government was considering the introduction of income tax or that the country's cabinet had discussed the subject.

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