A man walks past a clothing store with sale signs, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia September 4, 2016. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser
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Low oil prices are forcing the government of the world's top oil exporter into spending cuts to curb a budget deficit that totalled a record $98 billion last year.Saudi Arabia's non-oil sector shrank 0.7 percent from a year ago in the first quarter of 2016, its worst performance in at least five years.Essam al-Zamel, another Saudi economist, said such benefits accounted for up to 30 percent of Saudis' take-home income, so many people now felt significantly poorer."I used to travel three times a year to Dubai and Europe, but this year I didn't and I am not going anywhere this eid ... I cannot afford it anymore," said Sultan al-Dossary, 27, a Saudi who runs a small enterprise helping firms interact with the government.He said his net income had fallen to around 3,000 riyals ($800) per month from 10,000 to 12,000 six months ago. Many Saudis accept that low oil prices make austerity inevitable, and there is no sign of a significant political backlash against government policies.
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