Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 30 May 2020

Saudi Arabia forms sport and tourism ministries in Cabinet reshuffle

Some ministers have been relieved or handed new portfolios while several new faces enter government

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh. EPA
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh. EPA

Saudi Arabia announced a Cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday, with several portfolios changing hands and new ministries created for sports and tourism.

Former Saudi energy minister Khalid Al Falih, who was removed last year, was appointed to lead the kingdom's newly created Investment Ministry.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih speaks during a news conference in Riyadh Reuters 
Former Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al Falih speaks in Riyadh. Reuters

The Investment Ministry replaces the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority, removing Ibrahim Al Omar from his post there.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki, who has been leading the General Sports Authority, was appointed Sports Minister.

Prince Abdulaziz is a former racing driver and winner of several international competitions. He competed at Le Mans in 2012 and other high-profile events.

GSA chairman Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal says it is time for football in Saudi Arabia to evolve and achieve greater heights. Courtesy General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia
Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki says it is time for football in Saudi Arabia to achieve greater heights. Courtesy General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia

Tuesday’s royal decree will turn the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage into a full Tourism Ministry, with the chairman of directors, Ahmad Al Khatib, becoming minister.

The kingdom has been investing heavily in tourism to boost the number of non-religious visitors as it seeks to diversify its economy and end reliance on oil and gas.

Late last year, it announced tourism visas and made it easier for visitors to travel to the kingdom to attend cultural and sporting events.

Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has rapidly developed a local cultural scene and international acts travel to the country on a near-weekly basis.

Key ministries such as defence and interior have not been changed.

Several roles will now be merged. The Civil Service Ministry will be merged with Labour and Social Development and renamed the Human Resources and Social Development Ministry.

The decree removed Sulaiman Al Hamdan as Civil Service Minister but made no mention of a new position.

Turki Al Shabanah was removed as Minister of Media. Minister of Commerce Majid Al Qasabi had acting Minister of Media added to his responsibilities.

Housing Minister Majid Al Hoqail will become acting Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs in addition to his post.

Mohammed Al Ameel was appointed deputy secretary general of the Cabinet.

Updated: February 26, 2020 01:30 AM

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