CAIRO – Saudi Arabia’s monarch will announce a government reshuffle, an anti-corruption drive and a promise to increase food subsidies to combat rising prices in his first address to his nation since unrest began sweeping the Arab world, diplomats said Thursday.

King Abdullah’s speech is expected after midday Muslim prayers today.

The rare speech by the country’s ailing 86-year-old monarch comes after several small demonstrations in the oil-rich kingdom.

Though only dozens of people have participated, it appears the monarchy is worried that the protests could escalate into more intense gatherings.

The diplomats said the king will replace the ministers of defense, higher education and religious affairs. The defense minister is ailing, while intellectuals have criticized the minister of higher education for dumping billions on expensive projects that they said produced few results.