Saudi Arabia’s new foreign minister, Ibrahim al-Assaf, a veteran who has worked under several leaders, will be joined in the ministry by the minister of state, Adel al-Jubeir, who will be serving under a full diplomatic capacity within a new wider restructuring.
According to sources in Saudi Arabia, the idea behind the reshuffle is to divide the responsibilities and share the burden of the ministry and put in place a structure through which the country benefits from the two of them working together.
Sources say that as per the new arrangement, Ibrahim al-Assaf has been given the task to restructure the various departments in the foreign ministry while al-Jubeir will handle the diplomacy side.
Ibrahim al-Assaf has served as Saudi finance minister for about 21 years and was among the first finance ministers to take a series of austerity measures approved by the government.
Born in 1949, he is married and has four children. He received his education in Riyadh and graduated from King Saud University where he received his degree in Economics and Political Science in 1968, following which he was appointed lecturer in King Abdulaziz Military College.
During his work at the King Abdulaziz Military College, he left for Colorado, where he studied economics at the University of Denver. His thesis was entitled “OPEC and the International Oil Market”.
Economics and management
Al-Assaf then returned to Riyadh where he was appointed head of the Department of Administrative Sciences at the same college before he left to the US again to get his doctorate in Economics from the University of Colorado.
In 1986, he served as Acting Executive Director of Saudi Arabia at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and then Deputy Governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) in 1995.
He was handed over responsibility of the Finance Ministry in 1996. Observers say that al-Assaf’s exceptional experience in dealing with financial crises has kept him relevant to the ministry all these years.
Through his ministry, al-Assaf has strong relations with many international financial institutions as he represented the Kingdom in many regional and international financial establishment. He has also chaired boards of several public investment and development funds.
Adel al-Jubeir was born in 1962 and has a purely diplomatic background. He grew up in his father’s diplomatic home at the Saudi Cultural Attaché in Germany. He worked as spokesman for the Saudi embassy in the United States and then took up his role in the permanent delegation to the United Nations in New York, before being appointed as Foreign minister.
Al-Jubeir has closely witnessed the changes that have taken place in the Arab world and beyond. What propelled him into prominence was his measured response to all fierce campaigns against Saudi Arabia, especially the one that followed the attacks of September 11, 2001.
The source added that al-Jubeir’s experience in his role in the permanent delegation to the United Nations and his performance as foreign minister – once combined with al Assaf’s expertise in restructuring and management – will facilitate al-Jubeir’s diplomatic efforts and will boost the effectiveness of the external affairs of the Kingdom.
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