"Al-Naimi's removal is less a reflection on [his] policies, which really have carried the kingdom through two decades of highs and lows in the oil markets, than a reflection of the tough scope of the work ahead in Saudi Arabia" Emily Hawthorne, Middle East analyst at political consultancy Strafor, told CNBC's "The Rundown".
In a far-reaching government shake-up, Saudi Arabia replaced al-Naimi, who had been oil minister since 1995, with Khalid al-Falih, the chairman of state-owned oil company Aramco.
The change came after a sustained decline in oil prices; oil prices have fallen as much as 70 percent since mid-2014 amid an energy supply surplus and a slowdown in global demand growth.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world's largest crude oil producer and the de facto leader of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The exit of the country's high-profile minister comes just ahead of the next OPEC meeting, scheduled for June 2.