Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Monday swore in a new prime minister and Cabinet, tasking the new government to manage the country through an economic and health crisis as it faces a growing wave of coronavirus infections.
The new Cabinet features familiar and new faces, with eight ministers from the last administration keeping their roles, 10 former ministers from previous governments returning and 13 first time ministers.
Here's what you need to know about the new Cabinet:
Prime Minister: Bisher Al Khasawneh
A veteran diplomat and peace negotiator, Mr Al Khasawneh is seen by insiders and observers as a new face but also trusted pubic servant tasked with steering the country through health, economic, as well as a potential constitutional crisis should Coronavirus postpone November’s elections.
Mr Al Khasawneh most recently served as an adviser to King Abdullah. Previously he served stints as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (2016-17) and Minister of State for Legal Affairs (2017-18), each posting lasting less than a year. Mr Al Khasawneh served as Jordan’s ambassador to Egypt, the Arab League, the African Union, France and Unesco.
Minister of Interior: Tawfiq Basha Al Halalmeh
Tawfiq Basha Al Halalmeh served as the first director of Jordan’s gendarmerie from 2008-10, helping establishing the security forces and transforming them into an elite internal security and anti-terrorism force.
Since his retirement, the gendarmerie has emerged as the dominant security force in the kingdom, deployed to Jordanian streets more and more frequently in recent years in response to protests, work stoppages, and now the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Al Halalmeh is seen as an influential voice in Jordan’s security sector and had been named a senator last month.
Minister of Media Affairs: Ali Al Ayad
Ali Al Ayad is serving as Minister of Media for the second time, previously serving the role in 2010-11 through the outbreak of the Arab uprisings. Mr Al Ayad's experience is as a veteran diplomat and political analyst specialising in the kingdom's most vital neighbours and allies, having served as Jordan's ambassador to Tel Aviv from 2006-2010, deputy ambassador in Jordan's embassy in Washington from 1997-2001 and as director of the prime ministry's political affairs unit.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Economic Affairs: Umayya Toukan
Few are as well-versed in the last two decades of Jordan’s fiscal and monetary policies than Umayya Toukan, who previously served as finance minister at the height of Jordan’s debt crisis in 2014. He also steered the country’s monetary policy as governor of the Central Bank of Jordan from 2001 to 2006, and was an influential voice on Jordan’s monetary approach as senator when appointed to the senate in 2010.
Minister of Health: Dr Nathir Obeidat
An internist and specialist in respiratory diseases, Dr Obeidat rose to national prominence this year as the spokesperson and face of the government’s Covid-19 taskforce. His measured and sober assessments of the virus and its potential rapid spread in Jordan served as an antidote to his hyperbolic and oft-quotable predecessor, outgoing health minister Saad Al Jaber.
Dr Obeidat advocated for early preventative measures in the country, frankly laying out the potential duration and cost of the pandemic in nightly televised interviews.
His cautious approach has raised his stock among citizens and decision-makers as his predictions of the virus’s spread and communal transmission came true. Dr Obeidat previously served as dean of the internal medicine faculty at the University of Jordan.
Minister of Labour: Maen Qatamin
In a surprise addition, serving in the crucial position of Minister of Labour in a country battling historic unemployment levels, is Maen Qatamin, an economist and an outspoken critic of the government.
In the past two years, Mr Qatamin had emerged as a political social media influencer via his YouTube channel in which he deconstructs government claims and policies and offers powerful rebukes in Jordanian colloquialisms.
Mr Qatamin is seen by observers as a political independent untethered by ties to political parties or traditional power structures. He serves as a director of Knowledge Horizon, a distance learning and learning innovation firm.
Minister of Foreign Affairs: Ayman Safadi
By returning, Ayman Safadi, who has served as Jordan’s top diplomat since 2017, has not only extended his calm level-headed stay as foreign minister, but cemented his central role balancing Jordanian foreign policy at a time its ties with traditional allies - particularly Washington - are being upended.
Before becoming Minister of Foreign Affairs, Safadi twice served as an advisor to King Abdullah at the royal court, director of the Royal Court's Media Department, a spokesman for the UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), and editor-in chief at The Jordan Times and later Al Ghad newspapers.
The best of the rest
Minister of Education
Tayseer Al Nuaimi, returning from the previous government
Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources
Hala Zawaiti, returning from the previous government.
Minister of Justice
Bassam al Talhouni, returning from the previous government
Minister of Political Affairs
Musa al-Maaytah, returning from the previous government
Minister of Finance
Mohammed al-Ississ, returning from the previous government
Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs
Mohammad al-Khalaileh, returning from the previous government
Minister of Culture
Deputy Prime Minister for Local Administration
Minister of State for Legal Affairs
Minister of Public Works and Housing
Minister of Agriculture
Minister of Tourism and Antiquities
Minister of State for Prime Ministry Affairs
Minister of Planning
Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply
Minister of Water and Irrigation
Minister of Transport
Minister of Institutional Development
Minister of Higher Educaiton
Mohammad Abu Qudais
Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepeneurship
Minister of Youth
Minister of Social Development
Minister of Environment
Minister of State
Minister of State for Governmental Affairs
Nawaf Al Tal