Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz named his son and heir to the throne Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom’s Prime Minister and his second son Prince Khalid as defense minister, a royal decree showed on Tuesday.
The reshuffle kept another son, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, as energy minister, the aged king said in the royal decree, carried by state news agency SPA.
Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan, and Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih remain in their positions.
Crown Prince MBS is promoted from defense minister and has been the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter and a major USally in the Middle East.
His new role as the Prime Minister is in line with the king’s previous delegation of duties to him, including representing the kingdom on foreign visits and chairing summits hosted by the kingdom, a Saudi official said.
Prince Khalid bin Salman, MBS’s younger brother, previously served as deputy defense minister.
The crown prince said the kingdom has increased its self-sufficiency in military industries to 15% from 2% and plans to reach 50% under the newly appointed defense minister, SPA reported.
King Salman will still preside over the Cabinet meetings he attends.
The 86-year-old king, the custodian of Islam’s holiest sites, became ruler in 2015 after spending over 2-1/2 years as crown prince. He has been hospitalized several times over the past two years for various ailments.