web-fbJEDDAH: King Salman bin Abdulaziz has replaced Saudi Arabia’s labour minister, state media reported on Friday, after recent statistics showed a rise in unemployment in the world’s top oil exporter.

In a royal decree read on state television, the king also reshuffled the country’s top religious body, the Council of Senior Scholars, and the Shura Council, which advises the government.

State television said King Salman had appointed Ali bin Nasser al-Ghafis as labour minister to replace Mufrej al-Haqbani.

Unemployment stood at 12.1 percent in the third quarter.

Saudi Arabia has also been embarrassed by reports of employers abandoning expatriate workers without food or pay because of an economic slowdown caused by the drop in oil prices.