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UAE in major government shake-up as coronavirus hits economy

Sheikh Mohammed announced a massive government shakeup on Sunday [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 July, 2020

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The UAE has embarked on a sweeping government reshuffle.
The UAE has announced a major shake-up of government after a lockdown intended to tackle the coronavirus led to vast economic damage.

Among the changes are a cabinet reshuffle and the merger of ministries and departments, according to an announcement made by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum on Sunday, who also serves as the UAE's prime minister and vice-president.

Sultan Al-Jaber, head of ADNOC, will now serve as industry and advanced technology minister, while Abdullah Al-Marri was named as economy minister.

The energy and infrastructure ministries will also be merged and overseen by current Energy Minister Suhail Al-Mazrouei.

Around half of government service centres will be closed and digital portals expanded while around half of federal agencies will be merged, according to Al Jazeera.

Emirates Investment Authority will oversee the Federal Water and Electricity Authority, Emirates Post, Emirates General Transport Corp, and Emirates Real Estate Corp, according to the broadcaster.

Sheikh Mohammed argued that the overhaul will make government more efficient, cut costs, and make for dynamic services.

"The aim... is a government that can more quickly make decisions and deal with changes and more adeptly seize opportunities in dealing with this new stage in our history; a swift and agile government," he announced on Twitter.

"The new government has one year to meet the new priorities. Constant changes will remain the slogan of the coming period until we reach the best government model that keeps up in this new era and achieves the aspirations of the Emirati people."

The youth and culture ministries will become a single body and will be led by Noura Al-Kaabi, the current culture minister, with the National Media Council merged into it.

Sheikh Mohammed also announced the establishment of the ministry of industry and advanced technology, headed by Sultan Al-Jaber.

Also formed was the UAE Government Media Office, which will oversee media communications domestically and internationally and also cover public diplomacy.

A number of new ministers and government department heads were also announced.

It comes after the UAE was hit hard by the economic damage caused by the coronavirus crisis, with nationwide lockdowns enforced to stop the spread of the virus.

The economy is expected to shrink by 3.6 percent this year, after an already troubled start to the year with low oil prices.

"Anyone who thinks that the world after Covid-19 will be the same as the one before it is mistaken," Sheikh Mohammed added.

"The goal is to draw up a plan for the UAE after the Covid-19 virus crisis, a plan that will ensure that we are the fastest country in recovery."

Mass job cuts have been announced and thousands of expatriates have returned to their homes.

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