The Qatari emir has changed as many as seven ministers in the country’s 20-member cabinet and merged some ministries. The major Wednesday reshuffle saw Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani assigning the position of defense minister to Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah, whose own position was given to Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, according to the official Qatar News Agency. Among other changes, Al Thani also changed the country’s public health minister. The ministers of energy and finance, however, were unchanged. The Qatari emir also welded the Ministry of Communication and Transport with that of Culture and unifying Youth and Sports Ministries. Last year, the Persian Gulf state posted its first budget deficit for the first time in 15 years, amid falling global oil prices. The Qatari Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics has predicted that the emirate is looking at a fiscal shortfall of 4.9 percent in its gross domestic product (GDP) in the current year. The shake-up is seen as a means of enabling economic recovery. The reshuffle is also interpreted as the emir’s attempt to clear the cabinet of the ministers loyal to his predecessor and father Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who abdicated the throne in 2013.