Saudi Arabia bans English language and Western calendar

Reuters / Fahad Shadeed
Saudi Arabian receptionists won’t answer your call in English anymore and reading timeframes and dates in business deals will require a calendar converter.

Arabic is now the exclusive language to be used in government and private agencies, while the Islamic Hijri calendar is the sole datebook in Saudi Arabia, reports the Gulf News. The country’s Interior Ministry explained the move saying it's an attempt "to preserve” both the calendar and the language.

Previously, Saudi entities were allowed to “occasionally” use Gregorian, or Western, dates providing there was a corresponding Hijri timeline.  But the Interior Ministry has apparently lost its patience with the so-called “unnecessary” practice, which violated higher orders, says the Arabic daily, Al Watan.

Hijri is a lunar cycle calendar, commemorating the year of 622 CE, when Muhammad and his followers migrated from Mecca to the city of Medina. According to this calendar, March 19, 2012 is Jumada Al-Akhir 28, 1433.