Sultan Qaboos names new minister
MUSCAT ó His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said introduced major changes in Omanís cabinet on Saturday, with four ministers divested of their existing portfolios and given new ones and a new minister appointed in charge of commerce and industry. A woman was named the new minister of education.
There are no changes at the helm of the ministries of national economy, oil and gas, foreign affairs, finance and defence.
The new Minister of Commerce and Industry is Mohammed bin Nasser Al Khusaibi, until now the secretary-general of the Ministry of National Economy. He replaces Maqbool bin Ali Sultan who held the position for many years. Sultan now becomes the Minister of Transport and Communications. The change at the Commerce and Industry Ministry comes at a time when there is resentment in the country over escalating prices of essential commodities.
In order to redress the public grievences, Sultan Qaboos also ordered the setting up of a body for consumer protection, financial support for government employees and more allowances for students of state-run higher education institutions.
In other ministerial changes, Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal Al Busaidi was moved to the Ministry of Civil Service from Environment and Climate Affairs.
Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Harthy, previously the Minister of Civil Service, will now head environment and climate affairs.
One of two new faces will be Mohsen bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Sheikh who was given the Ministry of Tourism in the place of Dr Rajiha bint Abdulameer bin Ali who passed away at the beginning of the month.
The other is Dr Madeeha bint Ahmed bin Nassir Al Shibaniyah who will now head the Education Ministry, replacing Yahya bin Saud Al Sulaimi. Shibaniyah will be the third woman minister with cabinet rank, the other being the ministers of higher education and social development.
Sultan Qaboos appointed former ministers of transport and communications and education, Dr Khamis bin Mubarak Al Alawi and Yahya bin Saud Al Sulaimi, respectively, as state advisors.
Shaikh Fadhl bin Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Harthy is the new secretary-general of the National Economy Ministry, taking over from Khusaibi.
In other appointments, Dr Muna bint Salim bin Khalfan Al Jardaniyah becomes the under-secretary for technical education and vocational training at the Ministry of Manpower, and Mohammed bin Khamis bin Abdullah Al Aímri undersecretary for labour affairs at the same ministry.
There have been demonstrations in Muscat and elsewhere in recent weeks with one of the major demands being measures to curb inflation. After the latest, on February 18 in Al Khuwair in the capital, the protesters presented a petition to the authorities which was last week submitted to Sultan Qaboos by the Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court.
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