The newly crowned King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, has carried out his first cabinet reshuffle, as he imposes his own mandate on the kingdom’s affairs.

Several key posts were left unchanged, including the foreign, finance and oil ministries as the new monarch demonstrated a commitment to continuity, as well as a desire to instil some new ideas into the upper echelons of government.  

The new cabinet includes:

  • Social Security Minister: Khaled al-Araj
  • Culture and Information Minister: Adel al-Toraifi
  • Health Minister: Ahmad al-Khatib
  • Social Affairs Minister: Majed al-Qasabi
  • Justice Minister: Walid al-Samani

The changes extend earlier decisions made by King Salman including the appointment of Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz as Crown Prince, Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as deputy crown prince and second deputy premier, and Prince Mohammed bin Salman as defence minister.

There were also several key non-ministerial changes, with arguably the most controversial being two sons of the late King Abdullah being relieved of their duties as governors of the important provinces of Riyadh and Mecca.

Khaled al-Faisal returns as governor of Mecca after some time as minister of education, replacing Mishaal bin Abdullah, while the previous governor of the Qassim region, Prince Faisal al-Bandar, has also been appointed as the new governor of Riyadh, which was previously held by Turki bin Abdullah.

Another controversial move is the dissolution of several government bodies that were set up by the late King Abdullah. These are:

  • The Civil Service Council
  • The Higher Commission for King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology
  • The Higher Education & Universities Council
  • The Higher Council for Education
  • The Higher Council for Petroleum & Mineral Affairs
  • The Supreme Economic Council
  • The National Security Council (NSC)
  • The Supreme Council for King Abdullah City for Nuclear & Renewable Energy
  • The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs
  • The Supreme Council for the Affairs of the Handicapped

However, two new councils have been established. They are:

  • The Council for Political and Security Affairs
  • The Council for Economic & Development Affairs

There has been no mention as to whether these bodies will be replaced or whether their respective mandates will just be incorporated into the relevant government ministry.

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