Gulf’s first female finance minister named in new Kuwait government

Mariam Al Aqeel is one of three women in the country's new administration

Kuwaiti Minister of State for Economic Affairs Mariam al-Aqeel looks on during a parliament session at Kuwait's national assembly in Kuwait City on November 12, 2019. (Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat / AFP)
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Kuwait has appointed Mariam Al Aqeel to be the country’s new finance minister, the first woman to hold the post in a Gulf state.

Ms Al Aqeel is one of three women among the eight new faces in Kuwait’s latest Cabinet, headed by Sheikh Sabah Al Khaled Al Sabah. The reshuffle comes after Kuwait’s Cabinet resigned last month over a dispute with Parliament.

Sheikh Sabah, previously the foreign minister, announced the new administration on Tuesday; it includes Ahmad Nasser Al Mohammad Al Sabah who will take his old position.

A group photo of the Kuwait's new government in Kuwait, December 17, 2019. Kuwait News Agency/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
A group photo of the Kuwait's new government, December 17, 2019. Kuwait News Agency, HO via Reuters

The Cabinet also has new interior and defence ministers. Oil Minister Khaled Al Fadhel kept his position.

The Cabinet is expected to serve for less than a year because Kuwait is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections in 2020. The country has witnessed tumultuous relations between the elected legislature and the government appointed by the country’s emir. This is the eighth Cabinet in as many years.

The previous government resigned a month after politicians sought a no-confidence vote amid a dispute between senior officials.

Caretaker prime minister Sheikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Sabah was nominated to form the new Cabinet but he turned down the offer.

In November, hundreds of Kuwaitis protested outside the Parliament against the government.

Ms Al Aqeel has effectively been in the post since November 6, having stepped in as acting finance minister but has now been confirmed to stay on in the new government.

As finance minister, Ms Al Aqeel automatically heads the fifth-largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, the Kuwait Investment Authority, that has assets worth more than $592 billion (Dh2.2 trillion).

In the last government she held the post of Minister of State for Economic Affairs and has held a string of high-profile positions in the country’s finance and economy departments; these included Vice President of the Financial Controllers Bureau and Director General of the Central Statistics Bureau.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Kuwait University.