(Bloomberg) — Saudi Arabia created a new ministry for industry and mineral resources that’s separate from the current energy ministry, reducing the remit of Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih.
The shift was part of a series of royal orders by King Salman, issued just before the Islamic new year and reported Friday night by the official Saudi Press Agency. The existing Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, led by Al-Falih, will be renamed the Ministry of Energy and hand over its other files to the new ministry at the start of the next fiscal year, the agency said. He appointed Bandar Alkhorayef to head the new ministry.
The king also replaced the head of the royal court, who had served under the late King Abdullah, with a new appointee who’s viewed to be closer to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Al-Falih was in charge of a massive portfolio, including logistics and mining, in addition to his core role as top oil official for the world’s largest crude exporter. The industrial portfolio was added to the ministry when Al-Falih was appointed in 2016 and had previously been part of a separate trade ministry.
The new minister, Alkhorayef, is a businessman who is chairman of a company called Abdullah Ibrahim Alkhorayef & Sons and also heads a printing firm, Alkhorayef Printing Solutions.
The orders also replaced the head of the royal court, a key post that was held by Khalid Al-Issa, who had been in the court since the reign of the previous king.
The new chief, Fahd bin Mohammed Al-Issa, was previously head of Prince Mohammed’s office at the defense ministry. He earlier served as a legal adviser in the government’s Bureau of Experts, where Prince Mohammed also worked before he rose to power, according to an official biography published by the Saudi Press Agency.
Other royal orders replaced deputy labor and social affairs minister, Tamadur Al-Rammah — one of the highest-ranking women in government — with Majid Al-Ghanmi and created a new government body called the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence, with ties to the interior ministry and state security.
–With assistance from Glen Carey.