Bahrain’s biggest-ever cabinet reshuffle sees record 4 female ministers

Young blood charged with diversifying kingdom’s income sources, pursuing post-COVID economic recovery.

Kingdom of Bahrain flag (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Kingdom of Bahrain flag
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The king of Bahrain, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, ordered a cabinet reshuffle, the largest since the constitutional monarchy’s first parliamentary elections in 1973, and the first since the appointment of his eldest son, Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, as prime minister in November 2020.

For more stories from The Media Line go to themedialine.org

The cabinet announced on Monday has 13 new ministers out of a total of 23, and one deputy prime minister − Sheikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, who will also be minister of infrastructure − down from four. There is a remarkable presence of young cabinet members, and for the first time in Bahrain’s history, four female ministers have been appointed.

Only three ministers are from the ruling Al Khalifa family, the fewest in the state’s history.

Eight ministers left the government.

“The new ministers will take the constitutional oath on Tuesday so that they can officially assume their duties.”

Well-informed government source

“The new ministers will take the constitutional oath on Tuesday so that they can officially assume their duties,” a well-informed government source told The Media Line.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa  (credit: REUTERS)Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (credit: REUTERS)

The government reorganization includes the creation of four ministries: Sustainable Development, Tourism, Legal Affairs, and Infrastructure. Several others were merged or transferred, most notably the separation of the Ministry of Works from Municipalities and Agriculture; the separation of Social Development from Labor: the transfer of the Urban Planning sector to the Housing Ministry, and the incorporation of environment protection into the Oil Ministry.

Dr. Abdullatif Al Zayani will continue as minister of foreign affairs and Abdullah Hassan al-Nuaimi will remain minister of defense.

The four female cabinet members are all new: Dr. Jalila Al Sayyed Jawad Hassan, health minister; Amna Ahmed Al Romaihi, housing and urban planning minister; Noor Ali Al Khulaif, sustainable development minister; and Fatima Jaffer Al Sairafi, tourism minister.

The reshuffling

The sudden reorganization came after a regular session of the Council of Ministers on Monday morning, during which the crown prince/prime minister said that new “young blood will be injected into the government.”

The cabinet reshuffle is perhaps surprising because Bahrain is set to hold elections for the Council of Representatives − the lower house of the National Assembly − in November, which means that, according to the constitution, the government will submit its resignation, and be reformed after the 40 new members of the council are elected and the 40 members of the Shura Council upper house are appointed by King Hamad.

The crown prince/prime minister wants the new ministers to implement Bahrain’s plans to increase the diversification of income sources, implement $31 billion in previously announced projects, increase oil production, and carry out economic recovery plans after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“New members who will bring new ideas and a renewed drive to continue advancing the public sector for the good and development of the country and its citizens,” he said in the last cabinet session.

The most prominent absentee from the new cabinet is deputy prime minister Sheikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, son of former prime minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who has moved between several ministerial positions since 1993.

Others leaving the cabinet include deputy prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, who began his life in the government as minister of foreign affairs in 1971, and the prominent Shiite political deputy prime minister, Jawad al-Arayedh, who assumed a ministerial position for the first time in 1971, who requested retirement due to their ages.

“The ministerial changes came to define the government’s work for the next four years,” an informed source told The Media Line. “All ministers will be under observation during the coming period, and each minister will be more accountable for his accomplishments.”

MP Hamad Al Kooheji told The Media Line, “We support the direction of the crown prince and prime minister in the presence of new energies in the Council of Ministers.

“We will witness the development of government work and the upgrading of the performance of government institutions in the spirit of the Bahrain team,” he continued.

“The pumping of new blood will contribute to creating a new stage of achievement and work, and to continuing the comprehensive development process that the country is witnessing. We are very optimistic,” Al Kooheji said.

“The pumping of new blood will contribute to creating a new stage of achievement and work, and to continuing the comprehensive development process that the country is witnessing. We are very optimistic.”

Hamad Al Kooheji

Ali Hussain, a Bahraini journalist, told The Media Line, “This is the first time that we see this number of young people in the government. These young people have been well prepared during the past periods to take over the ministries.

“The new ministers have learned from their predecessors throughout the past period, so they have sufficient experience in managing government projects and implementing new plans,” Hussain said.