Previously top ministerial posts have helped position their holders in the Saudi line of succession.

The surprise appointment – replacing Prince Ahmad bin ‘Abd al-’Aziz, who had been in the job less than five months and was widely considered as number three in the line to the throne after Riyadh Governor Prince Salman ibn ‘Abd al-’Aziz – sparked speculation about the succession. King ‘Abd Allah, who is thought to be in his eighties, has suffered from health problems. And Crown Prince Salman, father of Assistant Minister of Petroleum, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin Salman, is 76. Prince Ahmad stepped down “at his own request”, according to the royal decree, published by official news agency SPA. (CONTINUED - 924 WORDS)