Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi monarch King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a royal order on Monday appointing nine new ministers in the largest cabinet reshuffle seen in the Kingdom in years.
The decree, which came a few days before the drawing up of the annual budget for 2015, named Dr. Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Khudairi as Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Mohammed bin Ali bin Hiazaa Al Hiazaa as Minister of Health and Chief of the Bureau of Experts at the Council of Ministers, and Dr. Essam bin Saad bin Saeed as Minister of State and Member of the Council of Ministers.
The Higher Education portfolio was assigned to Dr. Khalid bin Abdullah Al-Sabti while the Communications and Information Technology was assigned to Dr. Fahad bin Matad bin Shafaq Al-Hamad.
The reshuffle also included the ministries of agriculture, transport, social affairs and Islamic endowments which were assigned to Walid bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al-Muqbel, Soliman bin Saad Al-Humayyd and Dr. Suleiman bin Abdullah Aba Al-Khail, respectively.
The King also promoted Director General of Civil Defense Maj. Gen. Suleiman bin Abdullah Al-Amr and Director of Public Security Maj. Gen. Othman bin Nasser Al-Mihrij to the rank of Lieutenant-General.
In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat the newly-appointed minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments Aba Al-Khail said he would do his best to adopt a line “characterized by objectivity, balance and moderation away from extremism and excess.”
The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments is tasked with preparing religious scholars to counter extremist ideology, bolster ties with other countries and improve communication with Muslims all over the world.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi social affairs minister Al-Humayyd said he sought to serve those waiting to “raise their voice in society.”