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Saudi appoints private builder as housing minister

Majed al-Hogail, former managing director of Rafal Real Estate Development Co, was chosen to head the housing ministry by King Salman

Majed al-Hogail, housing minister, KSA.
Majed al-Hogail, housing minister, KSA.

Saudi Arabia has appointed a housing minister with a background as a real estate developer, reasserting its goal to develop as an international construction market in light of economic and social welfare issues. 

Majed al-Hogail, former managing director of Rafal Real Estate Development Co, a private firm owned by Saudi family interests, was chosen to head the housing ministry by King Salman, an official decree said on Monday, 13 July, 2015. 

Hogail will lead efforts to ease a shortage of affordable housing for millions of Saudis.

Red taping and land procurement concerns have traditionally slowed down the investment made by Saudi's government to provide affordable housing for its citizens. 

King Salman relieved the previous housing minister, Shuwaish al-Duwaihi, of his post in March 2015, as a part of restructuring moves carried out in the Kingdom since he took the throne in January 2015.

Since then, there have been two major cabinet reshuffles, and the health minister has also been replaced.

Saudi kings have traditionally appointed former businessmen to government jobs, choosing the heads of top merchant families for the post of trade minister, Reuters reported. 

But analysts predict King Salman now wants to use private sector experience as Riyadh seeks to avoid public discontent by improving social welfare and creating more jobs for Saudis.

"It's clearly a statement that appeals to a more pragmatic, practical paradigm, going away from the traditional bureaucratic approach to problem-solving, especially in sectors relating to services," Hossein Shobokshi, a businessman and newspaper columnist said. 

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