Saudi king names ousted oil minister to lead investment draw

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia's monarch Tuesday appointed as the country's new minister of investment a prominent figure in the kingdom who previously served as energy minister and board chairman of Saudi oil company Aramco before before being relieved of both posts in the run-up to the company's partial public offering late last year.

Khalid al-Falih at one point oversaw some 60% of the Saudi economy when he led the Energy Ministry, which at the time was also in charge of mining and industry. Those sectors were spun off from his purview into a new ministry last year in an attempt to focus more effectively on attracting foreign direct investment into those industries.

The announcement was published by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, which carried a number of other royal decrees issued by King Salman in line with reform efforts to diversify the economy and improve perceptions of Saudi Arabia abroad.

The king sacked the head of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and renamed the body as the Ministry of Investment, which al-Falih will now lead. The Ministry of Commerce and Investment was renamed the Ministry of Commerce.

The king sacked the minister of media and information, Turki Abdullah Al-Shabanah, who had only been on the job for 15 months. No reason was given. Minister of Commerce Majid al-Qasabi was named acting media minister.

The kingdom's General Sports Authority, which has hosted major sporting events as Saudi Arabia aims to draw attention to the sweeping social changes underway in the country, will now be the Ministry of Sports. Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal, the young prince who led the sports authority, was named the new minister.

Saudi Arabia, which recently began issuing tens of thousands of tourist visas to help boost the economy, attract investment and create jobs, will now have a ministry for tourism to replace the country's tourism commission. Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khateeb, who had headed the tourism commission, was named minister.

The minister of civil service was removed from his post. That ministry is being combined under the Ministry of Labor, which has been renamed the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.