New Saudi Minister Faces Task Of Turning Vision Into Reality

Saudi Arabia’s reform drive has gathered further impetus with the appointment of Aramco veteran Khalid al-Falih as the head of the newly created Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources on 8 May.

Saudi Arabia’s new super-ministry is an amalgamation of elements of the water and electricity ministry, commerce ministry and the ministry of petroleum and mineral resources, which had been led by Ali Naimi since August 1995.

The move is widely seen by analysts as a major part of the far-reaching reforms being introduced by the powerful but inexperienced Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman Al Saud. Under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, unveiled by Prince Muhammad on 27 April, the kingdom hopes to be able to survive without oil by 2020 (MEES, 29 April).

While embarking on the long road envisaged by Vision 2030, Mr Falih’s immediate focus is likely to be on the next Opec meeting on 2 June. Not just is it the first meeting since November 1995 without Mr Naimi as oil minister, but it is also the first since the 17 April Doha talks on major producers freezing crude output collapsed in disarray. (CONTINUED - 1066 WORDS)