Saudi Arabia's king promised a multibillion-pound package of reforms, pay rises, cash, loans and apartments on Friday in what appeared to be the Arab world's most expensive attempt to appease residents inspired by the unrest that has swept two leaders from power. He also announced the creation of 60,000 jobs in the security forces, a move that would employ huge numbers of otherwise jobless young men, while bolstering his kingdom's ability to snuff out protests. The ailing 86-year-old King Abdullah, his soft voice trembling, rarely looked up from his notes in the speech, broadcast live on Saudi television. Though protests in Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia have been tiny and were swiftly quelled, the monarchy apparently fears they could escalate as have others around the Arab world particularly in the neighbouring island of Bahrain, where Saudi troops are leading a 1,500-strong Gulf military force against Shia demonstrators. Saudi demonstrators have mostly come from the Shia-dominated eastern quarter of the kingdom. They share similar grievances to their Shia brethren in the nearby island monarchy, and the Sunni powers fear their unrest will give an opening to Shia Iran's military ambitions. But the changes announced by Abdullah did not loosen the monarchy's tight hold on power, a key demand of Saudi opposition figures. He thanked residents and security forces and asked them to remember him in their prayers.