Saudi Arabia does not use the western (Gregorian) calendar that most of the rest of the world recognizes but use the Islamic Calendar (Hijri), so if you look at your Iqama or your business visa all of the dates appear to be several hundred years ago. This is because the Islamic calendar began in the year 622AD (July 16th), it also is not the same length as our standard year as it is based around lunar months so is just 354 or 355 days long. This means that the Islamic new year begins 11 days earlier each year by our calendar.
The interior ministry has now banned companies within the kingdom from using the Gregorian calendar which means that many of us expats are now going to find things a little confusing. It will also be highly confusing for those companies outside of the kingdom dealing with companies in Saudi if all communications have to contain only Hijri dates.
In addition to requiring the use of the hijri calendar the ministry is also requiring all front of house staff and receptionists to always answer in Arabic and not English, this will cause some problems for companies that hire expats to man their reception areas.
Below is the news report about the move to ban the use of the Gregorian calendar within Saudi Arabia and move towards everyone using the Islamic lunar calendar, I guess this goes with the movement of wanting to use the Makkah clock to give Islamic time rather than using the standard Greenwich mean time (GMT.)
New rules introduced by the interior ministry have also barred front of house staff from answering the phone in English, particularly in companies and hotels, according to Arabic daily Al Watan.
All ministries and private agencies should use Hijri dates (the Islamic Calendar) and the Arabic language, the ministry said in a statement, in a bid to preserve Muslim values.
It added that some government departments had been using Gregorian dates, while numerous hotel and company receptionists used English in their exchanges.
The months of the Islamic Lunar year are;
Each month is just 29 or 30 days long as they correspond to the cycle of the moon.
There is a handy date converter in the sidebar of this site for you to use if you want to convert Gregorian into Islamic, feel free to bookmark this site so you can return and use it whenever you need it.
If you need to convert a hirjri date to a Gregorian date or visa versa you can use this handy little Islamic date converter.