Saudi King back home, orders $37bn aid
Riyadh, February 23, 2011
Saudi King Abdullah returned home on Wednesday after a three-month medical absence and unveiled benefits for Saudis worth some $37 billion in an apparent bid to insulate the world's top oil exporter from an Arab protest wave.
The king, who had been convalescing in Morocco after back surgery in New York in November, stood as he descended from the plane in a special lift. He then took to a wheelchair.
Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa was among the royals thronging the tarmac when Abdullah flew in.
Hundreds of men in white robes performed a traditional Bedouin sword dance on carpets laid out at Riyadh airport for the return of the monarch.
Television presenters wore special scarves in the colours of the Saudi flag in special coverage termed "the joy of a nation" to mark the king's return
Before Abdullah arrived, state media announced an action plan to help lower- and middle-income people among the 18 million Saudi nationals. It includes pay rises to offset inflation, unemployment benefits and affordable family housing.