Saudi Arabia on Friday announced the creation of a new natural resources ministry, separating it from the energy ministry, while replacing the head of the royal court in a series of official decrees.
Bandar al-Khorayef, a top business executive, was appointed head of the new ministry of industry and mineral resources as the world’s top crude exporter seeks to diversify its oil-reliant economy.
Other royal decrees published on state media named Fahd al-Essa as head of the royal court, the centre of power and politics in the monarchy.
Essa is a royal insider said to be close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler and heir apparent.
Former information minister Awwad al-Awwad was appointed head of the human rights commission, while Mazen al-Kahmous was named new chairman of the national anti-corruption commission.
The shakeup comes ahead of the first anniversary in October of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
The fallout over the insider-turned-critic’s murder was widely seen as the kingdom’s worst diplomatic crisis since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, in which most of the hijackers were identified as Saudi nationals.
The killing tainted the image of Prince Mohammed Bin Salman even though the kingdom strongly denies he was involved.