Limited cabinet reshuffle in Bahrain sees health, housing ministries under new leadership

March 24, 2011

King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa appointed Basem Al Hamer as housing minister to replace Majeed Al Alawi who was given the portfolio in February.

Fatima Al Beloushi was tasked with running the health ministry, in addition to the social development ministry, a royal decree issued on Wednesday evening said.

The limited reshuffle follows a decision by Al Alawi to boycott the government to protest against the way it handled the protests launched on February 14.

Al Alawi, a former opposition figure who was given the labour portfolio in 2002 after he returned from exile in London.

He was tasked with managing the highly sensitive housing ministry on February 26. On March 8, he announced plans to build 50,000 homes at a cost of at least BD 2billion dinars ($5.2 billion).

Al Alawi said that the 50,000 housing units would be built over a five-year period in various parts of the country and in cooperation with the private sector.

However, as the government evicted protesters from the Pearl Roundabout, the epicenter of protests, the adjacent highway and the Salmaniya Medical Complex, the country’s largest hospital, Al Alawi said that he decided to boycott the cabinet.

The health ministry was transferred last month to Nizar Al Baharna, the former state minister for foreign affairs.

However, he immediately came under a barrage of fire from parliamentary blocs for reportedly not taking action against protesters who had put up tents at the hospital car park. Five MPs filed for grilling him, less than ten days after he took over the ministry, making him the fastest minister to face a quizzing in Bahrain’s parliamentary history.

The campaign against him reached its pinnacle after he was accused of supporting the protesters, a charge that he strongly rejected. He resigned last week and, like Al Alawi, did not attend last Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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