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King Salman Brings In Son To Handle Energy Portfolio

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King Salman

King Salman has now brought in a little more royalty to the cabinet, as he names one of his sons to hold a key position. Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman will now hold one of the most important positions in the kingdom. He becomes the first Saudi royal to head energy ministry, which is considered one of the country’s most vital roles.  Saudi Arabia is now pushing to bring in more foreign investment into its country, with the aim of creating a mechanism that it can depend less on its oil exports only. The aim has been to diversify as quickly as possible, something that this change of leadership is going to help achieve.

The new energy minister is an older half-brother to the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and an experienced oil industry figure in Saudi Arabia. While both brothers are not known to be close, they are going to work on the same long term agenda that the kingdom is focusing on.

Prince Abdulaziz has replaced Khalid al-Falih, who apparently was not being able to work in tandem with the Crown Prince.  Al-Falih’s had been overseeing almost 60% of the Saudi economy. But his share was diminished in recent days due to his possible mismanagement of various issues, including reportedly not advancing quickly enough Prince Mohammed’s plan to sell shares in the state-owned oil company Aramco.

As Al-Falih was also removed just days ago from his post as board chairman of Aramco, a company that he once ran as chief executive, his cabinet portfolio was also shortened down. Apparently, the new energy minister would not have to worry about the earlier existing category of mining and industry which has not been taken off the Energy portfolio and make a standalone category. The idea is to focus on more effectively attracting foreign direct investment into these sectors.

While political analysts are right in thinking that giving away a sensitive post like this could create an imbalance in the kingdom, the fact that Prince Abdulaziz comes with a huge bag of experience in the sector itself has taken the focus off his royalty, even if for the moment. Prince Abdulaziz took over as the deputy oil minister in 1995, a position he held for nearly a decade. He then served as assistant oil minister until 2017, when he was named a minister of state for energy affairs and has been a longstanding member of the country’s delegation to Opec.  

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