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Opinion: Restructuring the Saudi State | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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(FILES) – A file picture taken on January 27, 2015 shows Saudi new King Salman stands during the arrival of US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman has tightened his hold on power on January 30, 2015, firing two sons of […]

Was it a surprise? Perhaps only those who don’t know Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz were surprised by the quality of the bold decisions that he took earlier this week in one fell swoop.

However, the majority of Saudis are well aware of King Salman’s practical attitude and decisiveness, particularly when it comes to taking the big decisions. If decisions serve the public interest and meet the aspirations of citizens, then the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques will take them quickly and without delay.

In my view, we cannot look at the cabinet reshuffle that was announced on Thursday evening in isolation from the decision taken by King Salman last week to appoint Prince Mohammed Bin Naif as the Deputy Crown Prince. I believe that this is the most important decision in the history of the Saudi state at its current stage, with the King sending a clear message that he is building the future of the state for decades to come. The same applies to the restructuring of Saudi Arabia’s state apparatus, starting from its most important body, the cabinet. This restructuring is completely normal and expected from the King, so as to implement his vision and manage state affairs; this is something that every Saudi King has done.

I think that these decisions will play an important part in reorganizing the Saudi state. The decision to establish the Council for Political and Security Affairs, and the Council for Economic and Development Affairs could become the cornerstone of the future mechanism of government work. We can also expect a quantum leap in the performance of the government thanks to these two councils, limiting the bureaucracy that often plagues government work, reducing its ability to provide services to citizens. These two councils will also assist the Council of Ministers in exercising their authority as the executive authority through which the King meets the aspirations of the people.

But why are we seeing these major changes in ministerial positions and government agencies at this time?

I believe that every visionary leader requires a team to implement his vision. King Salman has chosen this team to achieve his vision for a state that is facing unprecedented challenges, not just political and security related, but also economically, particularly as the price of oil has plunged by more than 55 percent. Youth make up more than half the Saudi population, while the people’s aspirations for a better life for themselves and their children are increasing day by day. I have no doubt that the Saudi monarch strives to secure a good life for his citizens, as he said earlier this week: “Dear people: You deserve more and whatever I do will not be able to give you what you deserve.”

But can we say that all government performance problems have vanished with these ministerial changes?

Of course not. Some government ministries have suffered from mistakes in the past, and of course these mistakes will continue and we cannot expect that they will just suddenly disappear. There is no government in the world whose citizens are completely satisfied with its provision of services. But what we hope for, and expect, is for the level of government services to improve, bit by bit, and for mistakes to decrease day by day.

King Salman has thrown the ball to his ministers and officials. His vision is clear and he has announced his objectives frankly and explicitly to all.

The larger the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gets, and the more people believe that it may have grown old and weary, the more we see its vitality as a state, renewing itself and keeping pace with the hopes and dreams of its citizens and giving them fair treatment.

The equation that was confirmed by King Salman is this: Saudi Arabia never gets old.