Saudi Arabia’s new King Salman ordered a lavish payout to all state employees on Thursday and reshuffled some top government jobs while keeping in place the oil, foreign, finance, defence and interior ministers.
The top oil exporter will pay two months of bonus salary to all state employees and pension to retired government workers, he said in a series of decrees read aloud on state television a week after Salman succeeded his brother Abdullah as king.
He removed two of the late king’s sons from big jobs, making Faisal bin Bandar Riyadh governor instead of Turki bin Abdullah and reinstating Khaled al-Faisal as Mecca governor less than two years after he was replaced by Mishaal bin Abdullah.
The two jobs are usually held by senior princes and have sometimes been stepping stones to higher positions.
In a possible indication of Salman’s approach to social reform, he also replaced several top religious officials, removing two clerics known as comparative liberals who headed the Justice Ministry and Religious Police.
He also appointed Mohammed Jadaan, a lawyer, as the new head of the Capital Market Authority, the state regulator for the stock market which will open to direct foreign participation later this year.
He kept in place veteran Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf and Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal. The Labour, commerce, transport and economy and planning ministers were also kept unchanged.
He appointed new ministers of agriculture, education and information and a new head of the intelligence services.
He also merged the education ministry and higher education ministry and abolished the Supreme Council for Petroleum and Minerals Affairs, replacing it with a new body, according to the text of a royal decree read out on state television.
The king, who took power a week ago after Abdullah’s death early on Friday morning, also kept in place the late king’s son Miteb as Minister of the National Guard, an important strategic post.