In a surprise move, Qatar drafted the head of the country’s state-run oil and gas company into its cabinet on Sunday.

Saad al-Kaabi, the president and chief executive officer of Qatar Petroleum, was made a minister of state for energy affairs in the first comprehensive reshuffle since the Gulf state became isolated by its neighboring former allies.

For the past 17 months, a group of countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have frozen all diplomatic and political ties with Doha, accusing Qatar, one of the world’s biggest energy suppliers, of trying to forge closer ties with Iran and supporting extremism.

Kaabi has been a high-profile figure during the regional political standoff and recently announced that Qatar would increase natural gas production.

–  With reporting from Agence France-Presse