Saudi Royal decree announces new appointments, restores benefits to government employees

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King Salman made a number of new appointments in Royal Decrees on Saturday. (SPA)
Updated 23 April 2017
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Saudi Royal decree announces new appointments, restores benefits to government employees

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday announced the appointment of Prince Khaled bin Salman as the new ambassador to the US. 

Prince Khaled is an air force pilot who flew missions as part of the Saudi contribution to the anti-Daesh coalition. He replaces Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki, who served in the post for just over a year.

Among the other major decisions announced through a series of royal decrees on state television was the removal of Information and Cultural Minister Adel Al-Toraifi. He has been replaced by Dr. Awwad bin Al-Awwad, the ambassador to Germany.

Minister of Telecommunications and IT Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel has been replaced by Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha. 

Civil Service Minister Khaled Al-Arj has been removed from his position.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman has been named state minister for energy affairs.

In an interesting development, all regional governors will have deputies. A number of new deputies were announced.

A number of new governors were appointed. Hail Gov. Prince Saud bin Abdulmohsin has been replaced by Prince Abdulaziz bin Saad.

Northern Border Region Gov. Mishal bin Abdullah has been replaced by Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Sultan.

King Salman, through other royal decrees, restored financial allowances for civil servants and military personnel that had been cut under austerity measures.

“The royal order returns all allowances, financial benefits, and bonuses to civil servants and military staff,” said the decree.

In September, Saudi Arabia cut ministers’ salaries by 20 percent and scaled back financial perks for public sector employees in one of the most drastic measures to save money at a time of low oil prices.

A two-month salary bonus was announced for forces fighting on the frontline in Yemen.

The appointment of the new ambassador to the US was hailed by a Saudi lobbyist in the US.

 Salman Al-Ansari, the president of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), described Prince Khaled as a “very organized personality, savvy, youthful, and active.”

In other changes, Ibrahim Al-Omar has been named governor of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).

Khalil Al-Thaqafi is the new chief of the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME).

This year, all examinations have to be held before the month of Ramadan.

Under reforms being directed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia is trying to make government operations more efficient and officials more accountable.

The change came among a series of orders issued by the king, who shuffled his Cabinet and replaced the head of the army.

Prince Khaled replaces Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki who served in the post for just over a year, according to the website of the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

Among other orders issued by King Salman, the head of the army, Lt. Gen. Eid Al-Shalwi, was removed and named a consultant to the defense minister.

Fahad bin Turki was promoted to lieutenant general and will replace Al-Shalwi.

 


EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

Updated 22 June 2018
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EXCLUSIVE: Saudi singer-songwriter Tamtam releases music video ahead of historic end to driving ban

  • Singer-songwriter Tamtam has released a music video to coincide with the day her fellow countrywomen make history
  • In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

JEDDAH: With the long-awaited day when Saudi women can finally drive drawing near, a Saudi singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles has written a song to mark the historic occasion.

Called simply “Drive,” Tamtam’s take on the breakthrough reform covers a range of emotions: Happiness, pride and even surprise.

Millions around the world shared the news that Saudi women would be allowed to drive when it was announced last fall, and with all the preparations taking place, the singer wanted to take part in the best way she could. So she wrote the lyrics to a song that mirrored the exciting events ahead.

Tamtam’s release focuses on the themes of freedom, equality and empowerment that she has explored in her music since the start of her career in 2012.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, the LA-based musician said she hopes the song inspires women to see that with patience and perseverance anything can happen. 

“If I had to use one word to describe the feeling, it would be hope. Women in Saudi are ready to have a bigger voice and become more independent.

“This is a huge step forward for all of us. The country is showing us that they know we are ready, and they are here to support us and help launch us forward,” said Tamtam. 

Her song’s lyrics include the words: “We know what we want, we know it’s our time, let go of past perceptions, tomorrow is mine, we got drive” — suggesting that it’s time to look forward and stop looking back at what once was.

The verse mirrors the narrative many Saudis are sharing with the world, empowered by the dramatic changes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is accomplishing with Vision 2030 and beyond. 

Tamtam, inspired by the late Michael Jackson, started singing aged 15. She wrote her first single, “Little Girl,” while attending high school in California after her family moved to the US from Riyadh. Her singing and songwriting have been influenced by events around her, always related to current issues with a twist of optimism. 

Whether it’s her strong vocals or hauntingly beautiful voice, Tamtam’s music transcends expectations. This young Saudi is singing and making a name for herself in the City of Angels, and her positive energy is reflected in her music.

As Saudis embrace a host of reforms, Tamtam believes many Westerners are shocked by the news. Yet people forget that Saudi is a relatively young country and more good changes will come, she said. 

“With hope comes more aspirations, dreams, new achievements and positive energy.”

The “Drive” video is uplifting, with playful, artistic imagery, and soulful and empowering vocals. The singer and her friends wear white, representing peace and femininity, and drive a yellow Ford Mustang convertible (Tamtam’s dream car). 

“Whenever I’m in a car, especially if there is traffic or it’s a long drive, I always turn on music to put me in a better mood. Driving is so much more enjoyable with music,” said Tamtam. “I hope that this song will be blasting through car speakers everywhere.” 

So the question is: Will Tamtam get her Saudi license, too?

“Yes, I can’t wait,” is the answer, obviously.