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New guard rises in Saudi Arabia as oil crisis forces rethink

The King Abdullah financial district sits on the horizon seen from a skyscraper under construction in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in January. With many of the kingdom's new policymakers holding private-sector resumes, their mission is to overhaul one of the world's most generous welfare systems through measures that were unthinkable a decade ago.  Photo: Waseem Obaidi/Bloomberg

After a year of plunging oil prices, all eyes were on Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Saudi Arabia's finance minister for two decades, to deliver a budget that could restore confidence in the kingdom's finances.

Yet it was Adel Fakeih, economy minister for just eight months, who strode onto a shiny green television set to announce spending cuts and subsidy reductions. Another familiar face missing that day was oil minister Ali Al-Naimi, whose words continue to move global crude markets as they have since 1995. Changes to domestic energy prices were explained by Khalid Al-Falih, chairman of Saudi Arabian Oil Co. and health minister...

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