King Salman announces sweeping changes in government

salamnkingRiyadh (IINA) – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman announced sweeping changes and named new ministers as well as chiefs of local government bodies in a series of royal decrees issued here Saturday.
King Salman replaced the long-serving Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi with Saudi Aramco chief Khalid Al-Falih, who will now be responsible for energy, industry and mineral resources, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, who was in charge of commerce and industry, becomes the new health minister; while Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) Governor Fahad Al-Mubarak has been replaced with Ahmed Al-Khulaifi.
King Salman appointed Sulaiman Al-Hamdan to the post of minister of transport. The outgoing petroleum minister Al-Naimi and Sheikh Saad bin Nasser Al-Shathri will now serve as advisers at the royal court with the rank of minister. Another new face is Majid Al-Qasabi, who has been appointed minister of commerce and investment. Mohammed Salih Bentin has been named minister of Haj and Umrah in the reshuffle that comes within the framework of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, according to Arab News newspaper. “The move to restructure the ministries and to appoint new faces is mainly intended to provide the best services to citizens and expatriates to achieve a prosperous future and sustainable development,” said the royal court statement.

“In order to achieve these objectives, a number of royal orders were issued Saturday, restructuring some ministries and government bodies and appointing a number of ministers and officials.” The king, in fact, announced major changes and replaced the ministers in charge of energy, water, transport, commerce, social affairs, health and Haj besides establishing a new recreation and culture commission. He removed, renamed and combined some ministries, while explaining the need to carry out reforms to boost the economy and ensure development in the wake of falling oil prices.

The king dissolved the ministry of water and announced a new ministry for water, environment and agriculture. The Haj Ministry has been renamed Ministry of Haj and Umrah. Referring to the central bank’s operations, the royal court statement said that Al-Khulaifi, who has been named SAMA governor, was deputy governor for research and international affairs at the central bank. His predecessor, Al-Mubarak, was named central bank governor in 2011.

The changes announced by King Salman come in line with the ambitious plans of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that call for a radical overhaul of the economy by reducing the Kingdom’s dependence on oil. The deputy crown prince recently unveiled Vision 2030, which stipulates several measures including privatization of state-owned institutions and a stake in Saudi Aramco to help fund the sovereign wealth fund.

According to the royal decrees, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has been renamed the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, while the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources will be known as Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources. It will also be entrusted with the task to undertake the management of the National Industrial Cluster Development Program.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs has been named as the ‘Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance’. On the other hand, the Ministries of Labor and Social Affairs have been integrated to become one. The names of several national bodies have also been changed with additional mandates, rights and duties delegated to them.

The General Presidency of Meteorology and Environment Protection has been now named as the ‘General Authority for Meteorology and Environment Protection,’ and it will have a board of directors. The youth welfare presidency will be now known as ‘General Authority for Sports,” and the Saudi Public Education Evaluation Commission will be called ‘Education Evaluation Commission.’

Referring to other national organizations, the royal decrees said that the Zakat Department has been renamed ‘General Authority for Zakat and Income,’ with a board of directors chaired by the minister of finance. A General Authority for Entertainment has also been established besides a General Authority for Culture. In terms of supervisory roles, the minister of health shall chair the board of directors of the Saudi Red Crescent Authority.

The minister of energy, industry and mineral resources shall chair the board of directors of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu, Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF), Saudi Organization for Industrial Estates and Technology Zones, Saudi Geological Survey, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), Saudi Exports Development Authority and the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.

In terms of appointments, the chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and the president of the Council of Competition as well as the chairman of the board of directors of Electricity and Cogeneration Regulatory Authority shall be appointed by royal order. The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) will be linked to the minister of transport.

Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Saud Al-Kabeer has been named as adviser to the king with the rank of minister.
Other important appointments include that of Prince Khalid bin Saud bin Khalid to the post of adviser at the Royal Court (excellent rank), Prince Mohammed bin Saud bin Khalid as member of Shoura Council; Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Mohammed as adviser at the Royal Court; Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz as adviser at the Royal Court (excellent rank) and Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz as adviser at the Royal Court.

Sulaiman bin Abdullah bin Humoud Abalkhail was named the new rector of Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University with the rank of minister, while Prince Abdullah bin Musaad bin Abdulaziz, will be new president of General Authority for Sports. Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, the outgoing minister of state and member of the Council of Ministers, will now head the Education Evaluation Commission.


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