Officials will only be appointed on the basis of merit


The recent royal orders are part of the ongoing restructuring of Saudi ministries and government agencies. The creation of the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is a step in the right direction. The appointment of prominent investor and industrialist Bandar Al-Khorayef as minister means that the state listens to the private sector and pins great hope on its rejuvenation and progress so as to enable it to play a pivotal role in implementing Vision 2030. This will help realize the objective of diversifying the sources of state income and not relying solely on oil revenues.

The royal orders will further strengthen the anti-corruption drive and protect integrity. One of the orders appoints Mazen Al-Kahmous as chairman of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, following the anti-corruption campaign initiated by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense.

Undoubtedly, the order is not meant to simply change the commission’s chairman but aims to bring about concrete changes in the legal and administrative mechanisms to fight corruption in almost all spheres.

At the same time, another royal decree has changed the name of the Audit Bureau to the General Bureau of Accountability. This is an important step as it transfers the tasks of the agency from auditing to accountability in its comprehensive sense, within the framework of the steps taken by the state to fight corruption. This underlines the keenness of the Saudi leadership to increase the efficiency of production while continuing the fight against corruption.

The bureau, under its new name, will have the power to carry out necessary investigations into violations committed against any of the State’s contracts and spending, and then take the necessary action directly without resorting to other agencies. Thus, the bureau changes the mode of auditing from a “formal” one to an “objective” one by exercising the power to trace, verify, investigate and take the necessary action against violations and abuse.

The appointment of Majed Al-Ghanimi as deputy minister of labor for social development, instead of Tamader Al-Rammah, was necessitated by the fact that Al-Rammah failed to deliver the required benchmarks of achievement in the social development sector. This action was taken at a time when the State is continuing to promote the empowerment of women in all spheres of public work.

It is worth noting that the recent royal orders have paved the way for the establishment of a Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, a National Center for Artificial Intelligence and a National Data Management Office. These are areas where the State has high hopes in its bid to achieve the goals of Vision 2030, which means the birth of a modern Saudi Arabia. It is a strategic goal of Saudi leadership, especially as the value of this strategic sector is set to reach nearly $1 trillion by 2020.

It is clear that the Saudi government strives to pursue reform, change and development. It will not hesitate to hold accountable and relieve from his position any prince, minister or official, whether big or small, when he is found to be incapable of realizing the State’s directives. The State will not hand out positions as honors, but rather will award them on the basis of merit to those who have ability, confidence and the passion to remove bureaucratic bottlenecks and enhance the capabilities of State institutions so as to achieve national progress and prosperity in line with the initiatives of Vision 2030.

— The author is a Saudi writer. Follow him on Twitter: @JameelAlTheyabi