JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia announced a major Cabinet reshuffle on Saturday with a heavy focus on culture and religion, as the Kingdom undergoes a major image overhaul.
The shake-up is the second significant government change since the appointment of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in early 2015. The crown prince serves as deputy prime minister under his father, King Salman.
King Salman announced the creation of a new Culture Ministry in royal decrees broadcast early on Saturday.
The governor of the Royal Commission for Al-Ula, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al-Saud, was appointed as its new minister.
For decades Saudi Arabia has combined its culture and information ministries. The Ministry of Culture and Information was renamed the Ministry of Information.
Ahmad Al-Rajhi was named minister of labor and social development, replacing Ali Al-Ghafis, who was appointed to the post in late 2016.
Sheikh Abdulatif Al-Sheikh, a former head of the Haia (religious police), was appointed minister of Islamic affairs.
A new royal commission was created for the city of Makkah and the holy sites. In approval of the crown prince’s proposal, a new body will be established called the Department of the Jeddah Historical Project, which will be administered by the Culture Ministry.
Abdullah Al-Saadan was named chief of the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu.
The king also issued a royal order forming the Council of Royal Reserves under the chairmanship of the crown prince. Each royal reserve will have a board of directors.
Maps tweeted by state media showed that six nature reserves established by the orders — “to reestablish wildlife, enhance their development and promote eco-tourism” — covered about 265,000 square kilometers of territory.
One of the sites is named for the king and another, located between the proposed NEOM business zone and a Red Sea tourism project, for the crown prince.
In a royal order, Sheikh Saleh bin Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Asheikh was appointed minister of state and member of the Council of Ministers and Council of Political and Security Affairs.
The royal orders also named several new deputies in the ministries of interior, telecommunications, transport and energy, and appointed new heads to the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu and the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.
Later, Minister of Information Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad described the royal orders as part of the march of modernization under the leadership of King Salman and the crown prince.
Al-Awwad said that the royal order separating culture from the media and the establishment of an independent Ministry of Culture would support development of both sectors and “help to achieve the ambitious vision of our country.”
The royal orders also named several new deputies and heads, including:
- Nasser bin Abdul Aziz Al-Daoud as deputy minister of interior.
- Abdullah bin Salim bin Jaber Al-Mutani as deputy speaker of Shoura Council.
- Khalid bin Saleh bin Abdullah Al-Sultan as president of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.
- Haitham bin Abdulrahman bin Abdullah Al-Ohali as deputy minister of communications and information technology.
- Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah bin Ali Al-AbdulKarim as deputy minister of energy, industry and mineral resources for industry affairs.
- Khalid bin Saleh bin Mohammed Al-Mudaifer as deputy minister of energy, industry and mineral resources for mining affairs.
- Nasser bin Abdulrazzaq bin Yusuf Al-Nafisi as assistant minister of energy, industry and mineral resources.
- Bader bin Abdullah bin Muhanna Al-Delami as deputy minister of transport for road affairs.
- Abdulhadi bin Ahmad bin Abdulwahab Al-Mansouri as assistant minister of transport.
- Mohammed bin Twailea bin Saad Al-Salami as assistant minister of civil affairs.
- Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Abdurrahman Al-Qahtani as president of the Hafr Al-Batin University, replacing Abdul Aziz bin Abdurrahman Al-Sowayyan.
- Bandar bin Obaid bin Hamoud Al-Rasheed as secretary to the crown prince.
- Ahmad bin Mohammed bin Ali Al-Thaqafi as adviser at the Presidency of State Security.