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Saudi Arabia’s new Cabinet ministers must lead from the front

Saudi Arabia does not lack individuals with talent — whether they be men or women

Khaled Almaeena

Published: Updated:

The Saudi Cabinet change that took place last week which saw the inclusion of nine ministers was the topic of many discussion groups and was shared by many on Twitter.

Many of the names and faces were unknown to most of us. That itself is an indication that there are quite a number of qualified men who can be called upon to do a job when required.

Saudi Arabia does not lack individuals with talent — whether they be men or women. They only need to be discovered and put to the test.

Indeed these new faces will be put to the test as they have been appointed at a crucial moment in the Kingdom’s history — both externally and internally.

The new ministers need to understand that times have changed. We live in an age of social media and public awareness

Khaled Almaeena

Outside our borders and in adjoining countries, there is chaos and confusion. All around us, there is violence and the bloodshed continues. Internally, we are grappling with extremism, sectarianism and other related threats.

Fluctuating price of oil

The fluctuating price of oil is another issue of concern. Its steady decline and a fluid money market make it imperative that the newly appointed ministers be prudent and exercise fiscal maturity and responsibility.

They should adopt austerity measures beginning with themselves and reduce ministerial spending without hurting the public. It will definitely not be an easy task while keeping the economy going.

The new ministers have been entrusted with a tough mission and they need a vision and innovative policies to address the needs of the State.

They need to understand that times have changed. We live in an age of social media and public awareness. Their shortcomings will be exposed and they will be held accountable. There is too much at stake and there should be no room for mistakes.

The ministers should evaluate their ministry’s present status and work around it, discarding the negative and building on the positive.

Leading from the front

They can only do this by being role models and leading from the front. A minister is like a CEO. He has to set a vision and goal. His job is to lead a good team and produce good results so that the public (his customers) will be satisfied.

Like a good CEO, he should have an open mind, be flexible and innovative, leave his ego at home and get down to the basics. He should command respect rather than demand it.

His first step toward productivity should be strict adherence to government working hours. Time management is essential. Enough time has been wasted; there is no room for complacency.

Then he has to identify his team and weed out the corrupt and lazy and those whose only aim is to survive.

The ministries that deal with the public, such as higher education and health, will be under great scrutiny. All personnel should know that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has placed the new man in this position to serve the people – and he will!

Sad stories

The minister of health is required to reach out to hospital owners and listen to their sad stories. The acting health minister did a lot and sharing his experience could be of major benefit.

We all know that it is difficult to apply macro- and micromanagement at the same time, but under the circumstances, there is no choice but to do so.

The newly appointed ministers should let the media be their eyes and ears. The media, for its part, should be responsible and accurate in relaying to them the needs of the public and in reporting the shortcomings of government services.

The ministers should accept the media as their partner. Finally, they should always remember that they have been given a golden opportunity to go down in history as officials who were able to serve their country well. They should not let it pass them by.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on December 14, 2014.

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Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at kalmaeena@saudigazette.com.sa and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena

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