Massive Cabinet shake-up

Updated 31 January 2015

Massive Cabinet shake-up

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman announced a massive Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, appointing Azzam Al-Dakhil, new education minister, Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khateeb new health minister, Adel Al-Toraifi, minister of culture and information and Abdul Lateef bin Abdul Malik Al-Asheikh new minister of municipal and rural affairs.
King Salman, who ascended the throne on Friday, reappointed Prince Khaled Al-Faisal as governor of Makkah in place of Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah and Prince Faisal bin Bandar governor of Riyadh, replacing Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz. He removed Prince Bandar bin Sultan from the position of the secretary-general for National Security Council and special envoy of the king.
Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani is the new justice minister, who replaces Mohammed Al-Eissa while Saleh bin Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh was reinstated Islamic affairs minister, replacing Sulaiman Abalkhail. He merged the higher education ministry with the Ministry of Education.
Other new ministers are: Mohammed Al-Suwaiyel, minister of telecommunications and information technology; Majed bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi minister of social affairs; Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Fadli, agriculture minister; Khaled bin Abdullah Al-Araj, minister of civil service; Saad bin Khaled Al-Jabari state minister; and Mohammed bin Abdul Malik Al-Asheikh, state minister.
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Ali Al-Naimi, Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, National Guard Minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, Labor Minister Adel Fakeih and Water and Electricity Minister Abdullah Al-Hussayen retained their positions.
Other Cabinet members are: Crown Prince Muqrin, deputy premier; Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, second deputy premier and minister of interior; Prince Mansour bin Miteb, state minister and adviser to the king; Prince Mohammed bin Salman, defense minister; and Matlab Al-Nafeesa, state minister; and Musaed Al-Aiban, state minister.
Housing Minister Shuwaish Al-Dhuwaihi, Haj Minister Bandar Hajjar, Economy and Planning Minister Muhammed Al-Jasser, Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Transport Minister Abdullah Al-Muqbil will remain in their positions. Other ministers who retained their positions were: State Minister for Shoura Affairs Mohammed bin Faisal Abusaq, and State Minister Essam bin Saad bin Saeed.
King Salman appointed Khaled bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Muhaisen as president of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), replacing Mohammed Al-Sharief.
Intelligence chief Prince Khaled bin Bandar was relieved and Gen. Khaled bin Ali Al-Humaidan was named the new chief. Prince Khaled bin Bandar, Prince Mishaal bin Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed and Prince Abdul Aziz bin Sattam have been named advisers to the king with the rank of minister.
King Salman dissolved a number of bodies such as the Higher Committee for Educational Policy, Higher Committee for Administrative Organization, Civil Service Council, the Higher Commission for King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology, Higher Education and Universities Council, Higher Council for Education, Higher Council for Petroleum and Mineral Affairs, Supreme Economic Council, National Security Council (NSC), Supreme Council for King Abdullah City for Nuclear and Renewable Energy, Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, and Supreme Council for the Affairs of the Handicapped.
Two new councils have been established: The Council for Political and Security Affairs and the Council for Economic and Development Affairs. The two councils will be closely linked with the Council of Ministers. The commission of experts will continue as one of the agencies of the Cabinet’s general secretariat.
The Council for Political and Security Affairs will have nine members and will be chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Naif.
The 22-member Council for Economic and Development Affairs will be chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
King Salman also reshuffled the general committee for Cabinet under the chairmanship of Musaed Al-Aiban.
Other major appointments were: Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman, deputy minister of petroleum and minerals with the rank of minister; Prince Turki bin Saud, president of King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology with the rank of minister; Hazim bin Mustafa Zagzoug, head of the king’s private affairs; Fahd Abdullah Al-Samari, adviser at the Royal Court; Mohammed bin Sulaiman Al-Ajaji, head of experts commission at the Cabinet; Yahya bin Abdullah Al-Samaan, assistant president of the Shoura Council; Abdul Rahman Al-Hussayen, president of the Control and Investigation Board; Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan, president of Capital Market Authority; Sulaiman bin Abdullah Al-Hamdan, president of the General Authority of Civil Aviation replacing Prince Fahd bin Abdullah; Abdul Rahman bin Abdullah Al-Sanad, president of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, replacing Abdullatif Al-Asheikh; Nabeel bin Mohammed Al-Aamoudi, president of the Saudi Ports Authority, replacing Abdul Aziz Al-Tuwaijri; and Ibrahim bin Mohammed Al-Sultan, mayor of Riyadh. Mohammed bin Abdul Kareem Al-Eissa has been removed from his position as member of the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars, one decree said.


Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. The 86-year-old is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2020

Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

  • The Syrian Qur’an writer, regarded as one of the world’s finest calligraphers, is on the road to recovery following his recent hospital admission

MAKKAH: Syrian calligrapher Uthman Taha is in good health and recovering at home after a 13-day stay in a hospital where he was treated for what he and his wife initially suspected to be the novel coronavirus COVID-19, although he ultimately tested negative for the virus.

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. His wife, Fatimah Umm Al-Nour, said Taha had a chest infection during his stay at the hospital and stressed that he had been “careful and took all the precautionary measures” and that he had not left the house for five months before his hospital visit.
The 86-year-old calligrapher is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. She praised his doctors, who have consistently checked in with the couple since Taha returned home, and added that she has tested negative for COVID-19 too.
Taha is regarded as one of the most skilled calligraphers in the Arab world. Al-Nour told Arab News that he continues to practice calligraphy daily.
Taha, who has written the Qur’an 12 times at the King Fahd Complex, was born in 1934 and attended school in Aleppo. His father was also a skilled calligrapher, who used the Ruq’ah script, and Taha studied with several of Syria’s finest calligraphers including Mohammed Al-Mawlawi, Mohammed Al-Khatib, Hussein Al-Turki, and Ibrahim Al-Rifai.
When he moved to Damascus for university, Taha began to learn other scripts, including Thuluth, Naskh (in which he is now considered a master), and Farsi. He received his calligraphy certificate from master calligrapher Hamed Al-Amadi in 1973.
He arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1988, and began work as a calligrapher at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. He writes the Qur’an in the Ottoman script, and copies of his work have been distributed throughout the Islamic world.
What makes Taha’s work unique is that each page of the Qur’an that he writes concludes at the end of a verse. The secret, he explains, is to simplify the words — which is the origin of the Kufic script in which the Qur’an has been written since the days of Prophet Muhammad’s companions — keeping the letters close to one another.
Taha spent years perfecting his technique of evenly distributing the words in every line so that the space between the lettering is consistent throughout every page of every book, which means eliminating many of the script combinations that make such consistency difficult.
He explained to Arab News that when he is working on his Qur’an calligraphy he is transported: “When I begin writing the Holy Qur’an, I resort to solitude to allow myself to be invested in the verses and their interpretation, forgetting about the world around me,” he said. “I wish the verses about Jannah (heaven) would never end, and my hand trembles when I write the verses about Jahannam (hell).”