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Saudi king reshuffles cabinet and reforms ministries

Reuters , Saturday 7 May 2016
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman chairs Cabinet Session on May 2, 2016 (Photo: Saudi Press Agency)
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Saturday replaced his veteran oil minister and the central bank governor in a major reshuffle of senior positions a week after announcing big economic reforms.

Salman also named new ministers to run the water, transport, commerce, social affairs, health and pilgrimage portfolios and restructured some ministries in a shake-up focused on areas where the government has promised change.

The most eye-catching change was the creation of a new Energy, Industry and Natural Resources Ministry under Khaled al-Falih. Falih was moved from the post of health minister to replace Ali al-Naimi, who has run the energy policy of the world's biggest crude oil exporter since 1995.

The Water and Electricity Ministry was broken up, with the water portfolio added to a new Environment, Water and Agriculture Ministry, and electricity added to the new energy ministry.

Major changes were also made to the kingdom's economic leadership, with Majed al-Qasbi named head of the new Commerce and Investment Ministry, and Ahmed al-Kholifey made governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), the central bank.

Tawfiq al-Rabeeah, formerly commerce minister, was appointed health minister, Suleiman al-Hamdan was appointed transport minister, and the Pilgrimage Ministry was renamed the Haj and Umrah Ministry.

The royal decrees also merged the ministries of labour and of social affairs into a new department, and created a new Commission for Recreation and Culture. 

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