A Saudi Arabian finance official has gone missing from a conference he was hosting. The unnamed finance minister is not at the event and his whereabouts are unknown, according to state-run media.
This leaves many wondering if this man’s disappearance could be related to recent political developments in the region or possibly an illness.
The Saudi Press Agency has not given an explanation as to the whereabouts of the finance minister, who was supposed to be hosting Thursday’s conference in Jeddah. The agency only said that the minister is currently not at the ministry.
A few hours after King Salman appointed Muhammed bin Nayef as crown prince on Wednesday, rumors began to spread that the conference had been canceled. It was later confirmed by a top Saudi official that the event would be postponed until further notice.
The press agency of Saudi Arabia confirmed Friday morning that the finance minister is currently outside the kingdom. He gave no indication as to when he plans on returning, if at all.
The Saudi Arabian government is in the midst of a major upheaval after King Salman removed his nephew, Mohamed bin Nayef, as crown prince and appointed his son, Mohammed bin Salman. These moves have left many wondering how this political upheaval will affect Saudi Arabia’s economy. The country has not explained why the finance minister was suddenly absent, but analysts believe it could be tied to the political changes.
The disappearance has raised concerns that his illness or some other reason may have contributed to his absence. Khalid A. Al-Hussan, a legal adviser told Arab News: If this happened due to an illness, then I hope he recovers quickly and returns to carry out his work. But if he was asked to do this for some reason, then I hope the situation is clarified quickly and that he returns as soon as possible.
King Salman’s move was unexpected as he replaced his nephew with his son who is now next in line to the throne. Mohammed bin Nayef, a longtime favorite of the United States, was relieved from duty by a royal decree. According to Al Jazeera, this transition has been a long time coming as the king had already begun handing over power to his son before his coronation in January 2015.
The senior adviser to the royal court, Musaed al-Aiban, said: “Yes, will be the crown prince and he will become the king one day, adding that it was a historical turning point.
Saudi Arabia has been ruled by the Saud family for decades, but this is actually not the first time that a father decided to pass down his power to his son. King Faisal did the same thing in 1964 when he took over from his late brother Sa’ud. King Salman’s move has shaken up politics in Saudi Arabia and other countries are watching closely as bin Salman is known for his aggressive economic policies.
U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted his approval of the appointment while many others are waiting to see how bin Salman will address political issues in Saudi Arabia, including corruption, influence on the government by clerics, and influence on the government by Islamic fundamentalists. Many are also watching to see what impact this will have on the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran.