RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was named the country’s prime minister on Tuesday.

King Salman also ordered a cabinet reshuffle, naming his son Khalid Bin Salman, the former deputy defence minister, as the new defence minister.

Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman stays as energy minister under a new cabinet, to be headed by the crown prince, according to a royal decree.

Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan Al Saud, Finance Minister Moham­med al Jadaanand and Investment Minister Khalid al Falih kept their positions in the new cabinet.

Prince Mohammed, who turned 37 last month, has been first in line to succeed his father as king since 2017.

Saudi Arabia has for years sought to quell speculation over the health of the 86-year-old king, who has ruled the world’s top oil exporter since 2015.

In 2017, it dismissed reports and mounting speculation that the king was planning to abdicate in favour of Prince Mohammed.

Sweeping changes

Prince Mohammed became defence minister in 2015, a key step in a swift consolidation of power.

In that role he has overseen Saudi Arabia’s military activities in Yemen, where Riyadh leads a coalition backing the internationally recognised government in its fight against Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

He has also become the public face of a sweeping reform agenda known as Vision 2030.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022

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