It was just shy of a year ago that long-serving Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah was abruptly replaced by Dr. Adel bin Mohammed Faqih (see Saudi Minister Of Health Replaced), presumably over the Ministry’s lack of progress in controlling the MERS outbreak.
Dr.Faqih’s reign ended in early December (see Saudi King Appoints New MOH Amid Sweeping Changes To Ministries), with the instatement of Dr. Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Hayazie as head of the Health Ministry.
In January we saw signs of a scandal at the MOH emerge when it was revealed that the MOH Canceled Coronavirus Contracts Over Corruption Allegations. Exactly who was involved, or to what extent, wasn’t abundantly clear from the coverage.
Two days later, however, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz died while hospitalized for a lung infection, and within a week the new king - Salman bin Abdulaziz – announced a Massive Cabinet shake-up.
Six weeks into his tenure Dr. Muhammad Bin Ali Al-Hayazie was out, and Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khatib was installed as the kingdom’s new Health Minister.
Late last night, the Saudi’s announced that after 10 weeks, Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khatib has been relieved by royal decree. This from the Saudi Press Agency
Riyadh, Jumada II 22, 1436, April 11, 2015, SPA -- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued yesterday a royal order relieving Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khatib, the Minister of Health, of his post, and appointing Minister of State and Cabinet's Member Mohammed bin Abdulmalik bin Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh, as Acting Minister of Health.
The competent authorities shall implement this royal order.
The official announcement doesn’t tell us much, but an Al Arabiya article published overnight suggests this was the result of a public relations incident involving the Health Minister and a citizen, which was caught on tape.
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Saturday, 11 April 2015
A recently leaked video involving a Saudi minister in a squabble has been a hot topic in the kingdom.
Health minister Ahmed Khatib was filmed having a heated argument with another citizen, in which he was shouting and making angry gestures.
Former Saudi Health Minister Ahmed Khatib. (Al Arabiya)
He was later relieved of his duties in an order by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Friday, with Dr. Mohammed Ali al-Sheikh appointed Acting Health Minister of Saudi Arabia.
I’ve watched the video, but without subtitles all I can say is it appeared `heated’, and according to media reports has gone `viral’.
I’ll leave it to those with a better grasp of the Arabic language and the Saudi political landscape to opine as why such swift action was taken, although I suspect the dreaded phrase `Arab spring’ probably figured into their decision making.
The end result is that Dr. Mohammed Ali al-Sheikh becomes the 4th Saudi Minister of Health to serve in less than 12 months, and the government agency with the best chance of stopping the spread of the MERS coronavirus finds itself once again under new management.