Adel Altoraifi, the former head of Al Arabiya news channel, was sworn in on Sunday as the new Saudi Minister of Culture and Information in a cabinet reshuffle ordered by new Saudi King Salman which may mark a measure of openness to change in Saudi Arabia.

A graduate of the London School of Economics, Altoraifi, 36, is a journalist specialized in Middle Eastern affairs, especially Saudi-Iranian relations and foreign policy decision making in the Gulf.
Considered a liberal, he is one of several fresh faces in the new government team installed by the new monarch who succeeded his late brother king Abdullah.

Under King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia was very severe in its clampdown on dissent. Earlier this month the Associated Press reported that a Saudi blogger, who was sentenced last May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes, was to be publicly flogged. Movie theatres are banned by conservative clerics.

Altoraifi (left in the above photo), who had been heading Al Arabiya News since November 2014, handed over his post its general manager to prominent local media personality Turki Al-Dakhil (right), host of popular talk show Eda’at – Arabic for ‘spotlights’.

Established in 2003, Al Arabiya, which is majority-owned by Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), competes with Al Jazeera in the region.