Saudi King Appoints New Governors for Eastern Province and Medina

Prince Mohammed bin Fahad, the long serving governor of the Eastern Province, has asked to be relieved of his position and will be replaced by his cousin Prince Saud bin Naif, the official Saudi Press Agency reported today. Another royal decree that was also issued today stipulated that Prince Faisal bin Salman will be appointed governor of Medina, SPA said.

Prince Saud bin Naif is son of the late Crown Prince and former Interior Minister who passed away last year. He has previously served as a deputy governor of his predecessor Prince Mohammed bin Fahad before being appointed Ambassador to Spain in 2003. When his father became Crown Prince he appointed him as assistant Minister of Interior for public affairs, and he became a spacial adviser to Crown Prince Salman and chief of his court after his father died.

The shake up was expected, especially in the case of Prince Mohammed bin Fahad, who has served as governor of the oil-rich Eastern Province, home of the country’s Shia minority, since 1985. The region has been rocked by protests since March 2011, and protesters have chanted slogans against him in their demonstrations. The eldest surviving son of late King Fahad, Mohammed could play an important role in the kingdom’s succession.

Appointing Prince Faisal bin Salman as governor of Medina is interesting because he has never served in the government before. Born in 1970, he holds a PhD from Oxford and taught political science at King Saud University before he became chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG) following the death of his brother Prince Ahmed in 2002. Their father Salman has become Crown Prince last year after the death of his full brother Prince Naif.