FaceOf: Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Saudi foreign minister

Ibrahim Al-Assaf
Updated 28 December 2018

FaceOf: Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Saudi foreign minister

  • Al-Assaf began his career as a part-time lecturer in economics at King Abdul Aziz Military Academy from 1971 to 1983
  • In 1986, after leaving academia, Al-Assaf moved to Washington, where he represented Saudi Arabia as the Saudi executive director of the International Monetary Fund. 

Ibrahim Al-Assaf is Saudi Arabia’s new minister of foreign affairs. He served in the past as the country’s finance minister. He is also a board member of the Saudi Public Investment Fund.

Born in 1949, Al-Assaf completed his BA in economics and political science from King Saud University in Riyadh in 1971. 

He later obtained an MA in economics from the University of Denver, Colorado in 1976, as well as a Ph.D. in economics from Colorado State University in 1982. 

Al-Assaf began his career as a part-time lecturer in economics at King Abdul Aziz Military Academy from 1971 to 1983. 

He was then appointed as associate professor of economics and head of the administrative sciences department until 1986. During that time, he was also an economic adviser to the Saudi Fund for Development. 

In 1986, after leaving academia, Al-Assaf moved to Washington, where he represented Saudi Arabia as the Saudi executive director of the International Monetary Fund. 

He left in 1989 and became executive director for Saudi Arabia at the World Bank Group for six years before being briefly appointed vice governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency in 1995. 

Al-Assaf then joined the Council of Ministers and became minister of state until 1996, when he was appointed finance minister. 

In addition to being Saudi Arabia’s long-serving finance minister, Al-Assaf is a member of the board of directors at Saudi Aramco and chairman of the Saudi Fund for Development. 

In July 2017, he led the Saudi delegation at the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.

In November 2017, Al-Assaf was briefly detained during Saudi Arabia’s corruption crackdown, but investigators found no evidence of foul play and he immediately resumed his duties.


Saudi rights body calls for law against underage marriages

Updated 12 November 2019

Saudi rights body calls for law against underage marriages

  • SHRC said it has studied the matter with a number of concerned agencies
  • SHRC said enacting such a law would protect children and maintain their rights

JEDDAH: The Saudi Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the Kingdom’s official human rights institution, has recommended the immediate issuing of a law to ban marriages to people under the age of 18.

It has also warned guardians that preventing daughters aged over 18 from getting married is a crime for which they will be held accountable.

The SHRC said it has studied the matter with a number of concerned agencies, and there are many negative effects of getting married under the age of 18.

It also noted that the Child Protection Law holds parents and caregivers accountable for children’s upbringing and protecting them from abuse.

Human rights activist Dr. Matouq Al-Sharif said the SHRC, in its statement, is drawing attention to practices by guardians that are contrary to international conventions, in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was ratified by the Kingdom via the commission.

“Based on the Paris Principles, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993, the SHRC was granted the right to provide the (Saudi) government with advisory opinions, recommendations, proposals and reports,” Al-Sharif told Arab News.

He added that the SHRC is responsible for ensuring that national legislation, regulations and practices harmonize with the international human rights conventions that the Kingdom has signed.

“One of the tasks of this institution is to follow up on the implementation of such formal pacts, and make sure it is effective,” Al-Sharif said.

“From some people’s point of view, Islam gives a guardian the right to wed his daughter. They claim that the Prophet Mohammed married Aisha when she was still 9 or 11, according to some narratives,” Al-Sharif said.

“However, authentic senior Muslim scholars have denied that and said the prophet asked for her hand when she was at that age. They confirm that the wedding was when Aisha was no longer a child.”

The human rights activist noted that the SHRC’s statement is a message to the relevant authorities to enact a law that rejects ideas that are contrary to Islam.

Al-Sharif said that the commission has long sought to change the belief that under-age marriages are permissible.

“It has even interfered to stop a number of marriages to minors in different parts of the country. Moreover, it has issued a medical study in cooperation with the Health Ministry. The study highlighted the health risks to minors of such marriages,” he said.

According to Al-Sharif, the SHRC received a letter from the ministry stating that it had conducted a study on the issue and found serious health risks associated with such marriages.

“The Health Ministry … listed a number of health risks, including osteoporosis … due to lack of calcium, anaemia, abortions, acute high blood pressure that may lead to kidney failure, pelvis and spinal deformities, and many other risks,” he said.

In a statement posted on its Twitter account, the SHRC said enacting such a law would protect children and maintain their rights.

The statement added that many studies have proven that underage marriages have negative physical and psychological effects. It said local and international laws consider people under the age of 18 as children.

The SHRC also issued a statement describing families preventing their adult daughters from marrying as a clear violation of human rights.

The SHRC stressed that Saudi law criminalizes such actions, and that the appropriate authorities would deal with any reported cases. It added that under Shariah law, any woman experiencing such treatment could file a lawsuit.

It has called on relevant authorities to help raise awareness among women about their rights, and to highlight the penalties for those who violate the law.