Kingdom not in crisis, says new Saudi FM

Ibrahim Al-Assaf, the new Saudi foreign minister, speaks to AFP at his residence in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on December 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 28 December 2018

Kingdom not in crisis, says new Saudi FM

  • Reshuffle designed to have the best in Cabinet: Official
  • Al-Assaf previously served as finance minister for two decades until 2016

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new foreign minister on Friday said the recently announced government reshuffle is part of Saudi Arabia’s transformation plans, rejecting the Kingdom was in crisis and his predecessor was demoted.

“The issue of Jamal Khashoggi... really saddened us, all of us,” Ibrahim Al-Assaf told AFP, a day after he was appointed foreign minister in a government reshuffle.

“But all in all, we are not going through a crisis, we are going through a transformation,” he added, referring to social and economic reforms spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Al-Assaf replaced Adel Al-Jubeir as foreign minister in the sweeping government shake-up ordered by King Salman. Responding to claims that Al-Jubeir was demoted, Al-Assaf said: “This is far from the truth. Adel represented Saudi Arabia and will continue to represent Saudi Arabia... around the world. We complement each other.”

Asked whether his biggest foreign policy challenge was to repair the Kingdom’s reputation, Al-Assaf said: “I wouldn’t say ‘repair’ because the relationship between my country and a vast majority of countries in the world is in excellent shape.”

Al-Assaf said his appointment as the top diplomat would help bring his financial experience to foreign affairs amid a current “dip” in the economy. 

The reshuffle of the government was expected as the Cabinet must be replaced and reappointed by royal order every four years, according to a statement from the government communications office. “The reshuffle is designed to ensure that the Cabinet has the best combination of the experience and know-how to meet the needs of the Kingdom over the coming four years,” a government official said in the statement. 

Saudi pilot Yasmeen Al-Maimani’s 1st flight celebrated

Hail International Airport and Nesma Airlines celebrated the first official flight of Saudi pilot Capt. Yasmeen Al-Maimani. (GACA)
Updated 25 June 2019

Saudi pilot Yasmeen Al-Maimani’s 1st flight celebrated

  • Yasmeen Al-Maimani has a commercial pilot’s license (CPL) from the US

RIYADH: The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), represented by the management of Hail International Airport and Nesma Airlines, celebrated the first official flight of Saudi pilot Capt. Yasmeen Al-Maimani, 29, on Sunday.
Al-Maimani made her first official flight between Hail International Airport and Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Qassim, becoming the first Saudi woman to fly a commercial aircraft as a co-pilot with Nesma Airlines.
She received the opportunity after the airline advertised vacant positions for co-pilots on its New Pilots Program — 11 were accepted, including Al-Maimani, who has a commercial pilot’s license (CPL) from the US.
Following their acceptance into the program, the pilots underwent a four-stage training regimen at Prince Sultan Aviation Academy in Jeddah, including practice on multi-engine planes with multiple crews.
Ground training using an ATR 72-600 aircraft at Nesma Airlines’ training center in Hail followed, before progressing to simulators in Jakarta and Madrid.