Revealed: Key elements of the Saudi Cabinet reshuffle
Saudi King Salman on Thursday ordered a cabinet reshuffle that saw new ministries exchange hands, while Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman kept his roles as deputy prime minister and defense minister.
Who are the key appointees in the overhaul?
According to the Saudi Press Agency, former foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir has been relieved from his position and named Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.
The Washington Post says Adel al-Jubeir is a veteran diplomat who is well known in Washington and served as ambassador there for eight years before being appointed foreign minister in 2015.
Ibrahim Al Assaf now holds that title. According to the Boston Globe, Al Assaf is not as well known internationally. After serving as finance minister, he was locked in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton last year with hundreds of princes, businessmen and officials in Saudi’s anti-corruption campaign. The Washington post says Al Assaf served as a member of the board of Saudi Aramco and as a governor of the International Monetary Fund.
According to the Straits Times, after his release, Al Assaf attended a Cabinet meeting and then joined the Saudi delegation to the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The reason for his detention in 2017 and subsequent release was never made public.
Head of the National Guard
The Washington Post said Prince Abdullah bin Bandar was named the head of the Saudi national guard, a powerful security agency whose role has been to protect the royal family.
According to the Guardian, Prince Abdullah is the son of Prince Bandar al-Saud, who once served as Saudi ambassador to Washington. Prince Abdullah had been deputy governor of Mecca.
New: National Space Agency
The Boston Globe said King Salman ordered the creation of a national space agency to be led by minister and Prince Sultan bin Salman, who was the first Arab astronaut.
Al Arabiya said Prince Sultan presided over the Saudi Tourism Authority. The Saudi Space Authority’s board of directors will be appointed by Royal order.
National Security Advisor
The Washington Post said Musaed al-Aiban, a long-time government minister who most recently headed a national cybersecurity authority, was named national security adviser. Khalid bin Qarar al-Harbi has been appointed the Director of Public Security. A royal decree was also issued to restructure the Political and Security Affairs Council, headed by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Media, Education and Sports ministries
The Guardian said Turki al-Shabanah, a Saudi TV presenter, was named media minister. Hamad al-Sheikh was appointed the minister of education. Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal is now president of the Sports Authority.
General Entertainment Authority
Turki al-Sheikh was named as head of the kingdom’s general entertainment authority, a body created in recent years to help organize and promote concerts and other events that had long been banned in the country. Al-Sheikh was Chairman of the General Sports Authority.
The Guardian said Sheikh’s appointment as head of entertainment means he no longer oversees a cybersecurity and programming body that was led by Saud al-Qahtani, who was named in a Saudi-led investigation into the October murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by rogue elements in a Saudi consulate in Turkey.