Saudi Arabia names businessman as labor minister in small shift away from oil reliance

Saudi Arabia on Saturday named a prominent businessman as labor minister at the urging of its private sector.

Private sector businessman Ahmed bin Suleiman al-Rajhi was named minister of labor and social development, according to state media.

The business community wants to see the kingdom diversify its economy away from oil exclusivity and create jobs for an overwhelmingly young population.

King Salman also issued royal orders setting up state bodies to promote culture and protect the environment, and appointed a cleric known for moderate views to lead the Islamic affairs portfolio at a time when the deeply conservative Muslim country is easing social restrictions and promoting entertainment, Reuters reported.

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