JEDDAH, 13 April 2003 — Saudi Arabia is likely to announce a Cabinet reshuffle next month. There are reports that 11 ministers, who have completed two four-year terms, will be replaced.
Al-Watan Arabic daily, quoting political observers in Riyadh, reported yesterday that the Cabinet change would take place on May 3. “It is expected that a number of existing ministers will leave the Cabinet to give way to new faces,” the newspaper said.
Interior Minister Prince Naif said in a recent press conference that the Cabinet reshuffle would take place as scheduled on May 3 when the current government completes four years.
“The Council of Ministers System limits the period of serving in a Cabinet post to no more than four years during which members can be reshuffled by a Royal Decree,” wrote Al-Watan.
According to the daily, 11 ministers, some of whom hold important portfolios, may not be part of the new Cabinet as they have completed two terms.
The most prominent among the 11 ministers are: Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi, Commerce Minister Osama Faqeeh, Information Minister Dr. Fouad Al-Farsy, Higher Education Minister Dr. Khaled Al-Anqari and Education Minister Dr. Muhammad Al-Rasheed.
The remaining six are: Communications Minister Dr. Nasser Al-Salloum, Municipal and Rural Affairs Minister Muhammad Al-Jarallah, Industry and Electricity Minister Dr. Hashim Yamani, Agriculture Minister Abdullah Muammar, Health Minister Osama Shubokshi and Justice Minister Abdullah Al-Sheikh.
Next month’s Cabinet reshuffle will be the third. The first took place in 1995 while the second was on June 16, 1999.
It is widely expected that the new Cabinet ministers will be selected from the Shoura Council which Saudis say has become a training ground for heading a ministry. A number of ministers in the present Cabinet have come from the Shoura. They include Labor and Social Affairs Minister Dr. Ali Al-Namlah, Haj Minister Iyad Madani, and Planning Minister Khaled Al-Gosaibi.
The Cabinet consists of King Fahd, who is the prime minister, Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard and Prince Sultan, second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, in addition to 20 executive ministers, seven state ministers, a secretary-general, an assistant secretary-general and the king’s advisers. The newest ministry is the Ministry of Water which was created last year. Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, former Saudi ambassador to Britain, is its minister.