Saudi Arabia’s new minister of education has remarkably broken protocol and allowed the ministry staff and visitors to take selfie pictures with him. Azzam Al Dakhil was appointed minister last month in a major cabinet reshuffle made by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud days after he assumed power following the death of his brother King Abdullah.
The ministry of higher education was in the reshuffle merged with the ministry of education to form a super ministry. The minister has already succeeded in establishing direct contact with the ministry employees through the Twitter microblog. “You have honoured me with your congratulations n my appointment and I am overwhelmed with your attitudes,” he posted on his account. “I do follow your tweets and your remarks and I urge you to pray for me to fulfill your aspirations.”
Al Dakhil, 55, holds degrees from UK and US universities.
The selfie pictures went viral on the Internet and users welcomed the obvious shift from rigid protocols governing ministers’ moves and attitudes to the much more relaxed approach adopted by the minister.
“May God be on your side always and help you.” Abu Nawwaf, a blogger, commented. “You have reminded all ministers that they are humans and that they part of the community. Rigid appearances and attitudes should not be considered when you are holding a public position,” he posted on Al Marsad news site.
For Wasta, another blogger, rigidity should have no room. “We are totally against protocols and formal attitudes when it comes to serving the nation,” he posted. “We should hate to see ministers talking to people only through the heads of their offices or other staff. A minister should leave his office and listen to his staff and to people at the ministry.”