Foreign, finance and oil ministers stay in Saudi cabinet shake-up

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman appointed deputy oil minister

King Salman has retained long-serving foreign, finance and oil ministers in a cabinet and government reshuffle announced on 29 January.

Sons of the late King Abdullah have been replaced as governors of the key provinces of Riyadh and Mecca.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former high-profile Saudi ambassador to the US, has been replaced as head of the Saudi Intelligence Department by Khaled Bin Ali al-Humaidan.

The changes complement earlier decisions made by King Salman including the appointment of Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz as Crown Prince, Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Naif as deputy crown prince and second deputy premier and Prince Mohammed Bin Salman as Defence Minister.

The changes are being interpreted as signalling continuity in key areas of government policy, whilst simultaneously demonstrating King Salman’s desire for innovation in the administration of domestic affairs. They bring people with a close connection to King Salman into the cabinet.

Those retaining their jobs are:

  • Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who has been minister since 1975
  • Petroleum & Mineral Resources Minister Ali al-Naimi, former CEO of Saudi Aramco and minister since 1995. Observers note that Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman, son of the king, has been appointed deputy minister and appears to have been anointed as future minister when Al-Naimi, who is 80 this year, retires
  • Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf, minister since 1996
  • National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, son of the late king
  • Minister of Economy & Planning Mohammed al-Jasser. Al-Jasser has been minister since 2011 and was previously governor of Sama, the kingdom’s central bank
  • Labour Minister Adel Fakeih, a businessman and former Jeddah mayor
  • Water & Electricity Minister Abdullah al-Hussayen, former head of the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) and minister since 2004
  • Transport Minister Abdullah bin Abdulrahman al-Muqbel. He has been minister since December 2014
  • Minister of Housing Shuwaish bin Saudi bin Duwaihi al-Duwaihi. He has been minister since the department was created in 2011.
  • Minister of Commerce & Industry Tawfiq al-Rabiah. He was previously head of Modon, the government industrial estate agency.
  • Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar
  • State Minister for Shoura Affairs Mohammed bin Faisal Abusaq,
  • State Minister Essam bin Saad bin Saeed.
  • State Minister Matlab al-Nafeesa and
  • State Minister Musaed al-Aiban

The new ministers are:

  • Azzam al-Dakhil, Minister of Education. He was CEO and member of board of directors at the Riyadh-based Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG), publisher of the London Arabic daily Asharq Alawsat. The SRMG is chaired by Prince Turki Bin Salman, son of the king. The Ministry of Higher Education has been abolished and its functions merged into the ministry.
  • Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khateeb, Minister of Health. He was previously CEO Jadwa Investment, a Riyadh-based finance firm chaired by Prince Faisal bin Salman, son of the king. Prince Khaled al-Faisal previously held the job
  • Adel al-Toraifi, Minister of Culture & Information. He was previously chief editor of Asharq Alawsat
  • Abdul Lateef bin Abdul Malik al-Asheikh, Minister of Municipal & Rural Affairs. He replaces Prince Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz who has been made state minister and adviser to the king
  • Walid bin Mohammed al-Samaani, Minister of Justice, who replaces Mohammed Al-Eissa
  • Saleh bin Abdul Aziz al-Asheikh was reinstated Islamic affairs Minister, replacing Sulaiman Abalkhail
  • Majed bin Abdullah al-Qasabi, former secretary general of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce & Industry, is Minister of Social Affairs.
  • Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Mohsen al-Fadli, Minister of Agriculture;
  • Khaled bin Abdullah al-Araj, Minister of Civil Service
  • Saad bin Khaled al-Jabari, State Minister and
  • Mohammed bin Abdul Malik al-Asheikh, State Minister.

Prince Khaled al-Faisal, son of the late King Faisal, returns as governor of Makkah after just over a year as Minister of Education. He replaces Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah.

Prince Faisal bin Bandar Bin Abdulaziz has been made governor of Riyadh, replacing Prince Turki Bin Abdullah. He was previously governor of Qassim province north of Riyadh.

There are 14 governors, technically employees of the Ministry of the Interior. These are highly-sensitive posts that involve working closely with tribal and local leaders. There are always held by senior members of the Al-Saud family.

King Salman appointed Khaled bin Abdul Mohsen al-Muhaisen as president of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), replacing Mohammed al-Sharief.

Government bodies that have been dissolved are;

  • The Higher Committee for Educational Policy
  • The Higher Committee for Administrative Organisation
  • The Civil Service Council
  • The Higher Commission for King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology
  • The Higher Education & Universities Council
  • The Higher Council for Education
  • The Higher Council for Petroleum & Mineral Affairs
  • The Supreme Economic Council
  • The National Security Council (NSC)
  • The Supreme Council for King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy
  • The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, and
  • The Supreme Council for the Affairs of the Handicapped.

Two new councils have been established: The Council for Political and Security Affairs and the Council for Economic & Development Affairs. They will be closely linked with the Council of Ministers.

The Council for Political & Security Affairs will have nine members and will be chaired by Prince Mohammed Bin Naif. The 22-member Council for Economic & Development Affairs will be chaired by Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, son of the king and Minister of Defence.

The commission of experts will continue as one of the agencies of the Cabinet’s general secretariat.

King Salman also reshuffled the general committee for the cabinet under the chairmanship of Musaed al-Aiban.

Other major appointments were

  • Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, deputy minister of petroleum and minerals with the rank of minister
  • Prince Turki bin Saud, president of King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology with the rank of minister
  • Hazim bin Mustafa Zagzoug, head of the king’s private affairs
  • Fahd Abdullah al-Samari, adviser at the Royal Court
  • Mohammed bin Sulaiman al-Ajaji, head of experts commission at the Cabinet
  • Yahya bin Abdullah al-Samaan, assistant president of the Shoura Council
  • Abdul Rahman al-Hussayen, president of the Control and Investigation Board
  • Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Jadaan, president of Capital Market Authority
  • Sulaiman bin Abdullah al-Hamdan, president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation replacing Prince Fahd bin Abdullah
  • Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah al-Sanad, president of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue & Prevention of Vice, replacing Abdullatif al-Asheikh
  • Nabeel bin Mohammed al-Aamoudi, president of the Saudi Ports Authority, replacing Abdul Aziz al-Tuwaijri; and
  • Ibrahim bin Mohammed al-Sultan, mayor of Riyadh.
  • Mohammed bin Abdul Kareem al-Eissa has been removed from his position as member of the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars.

For more about this story, see