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Capital Markets

Saudi Arabia: Reformers take the reins

New government appointments in Saudi Arabia have sparked hopes that the Kingdom might adopt policies more oriented towards the private sector and foreign investment.

New government appointments in Saudi Arabia have sparked hopes that the Kingdom might adopt policies more oriented towards the private sector and foreign investment.

King Abdullah chose Mohammed Al Jasser, formerly governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (Sama), to head the economy and planning ministry in December. Replacing Al Jasser as central bank governor is Fahad Al Mubarak, formerly head of Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia.

Private sector appointment

Al Mubarak’s appointment is unusual in that he comes from the private sector: he has also been a director at Dubai retail group Majid Al Futtaim, for example. Al Jasser, by contrast, is a respected technocrat, having acceded to the governorship after a long stint at the finance ministry and in other positions at Sama.

The shake-up at these economy ministries comes after other reshuffles in the Saudi government following the death in October of Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Former interior minister Nayef Bin Abdulaziz was named crown prince after his brother’s death.

But global economic problems combined with the Arab Spring might be further spurs to change in the Kingdom.

The state reacted to regional unrest with a $130 billion spending plan in 2011, for example. Al Jasser will in part help coordinate such spending, as the government aims to boost its transport, education and housing infrastructure.

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