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Mon 3 Aug 2015 09:41 AM

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Saudi king leaves France after holiday controversy

A petition from some 150,000 residents was launched over the closure of a public beach outside his villa

Saudi king leaves France after holiday controversy
(Getty Images)

Saudi Arabian King Salman left the south of France for Morocco on Sunday, cutting short a planned three-week stay after a petition from some 150,000 residents over the closure of a public beach outside his villa.

A Saudi source said King Salman had arrived in Morocco, saying this was part of his holiday programme and had nothing to do with the media coverage that his visit had attracted.

Philippe Castanet, a local French government official, added that about half of the king's 1,000-person entourage had left along with him. He did not specify a reason for the departures nor if the monarch planned to return to France.

The planned three-week visit by the new king and his inner circle at the family's seafront villa in Vallauris, where US actress Rita Hayworth celebrated her wedding to Prince Aly Khan of Pakistan in 1949, was expected to be a boon for the local economy.

But the closure of the public beach for privacy and security reasons stirred up a local storm. The king's installation of an elevator from the beach to the villa, approved for temporary use by local government, also provoked anger among some residents who objected to allowing him this privilege.

Castanet said that the elevator would be removed in the coming weeks.

The Saudi source said King Salman's presence in France had been coordinated with French authorities and strictly followed their procedures and arrangements for high-security visitors.

The source said the king respected the French people and hoped his schedule next year would permit a visit to nearby Cannes, where the famous film festival is held annually.

France has been nurturing new links with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries over the last three years due to its tough stance on Iran and similar positions on conflicts across the Middle East. It is beginning to see commercial rewards in terms of contracts for companies in the energy and defence sectors.

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Rizwan Altaf 4 years ago

A big financial loss to local French economy.
While i totally understand the issues playing out here and how nobody is above the law,its also amazing to see the French president and Foreign Minister going to Saudi Arabia and Iran begging them to buy Airbus', Nuclear plants, arms and french cheese.

they seem to have no pride in themselves- trying to humiliate Arabs and persians and on the other hand landing in Riyadh with a begging bowl

Amazingly French attitude

European 4 years ago

It is a cultural difference. In Europe, it is not because you do a lot of business with someone that this person stands above the law. In theory, equality for the law is one of the cornerstones of a European society like the French. So what you call attitude is just called 'following the law' in Europe. (By the way, I do not think that if you manufacture and sell high tech like planes that you are a beggar. If you think like that the one who is selling oil to sustain its' economy can equally be called a beggar. Lets' call it 'exchange')

leo50 4 years ago

on behalf of Blackpool Municipality I am sure I can advise that the King and his entourage would be welcomed to the world famous Blackpool Beach for as long as they wished to stay. Special Deck Chairs could be provided stretching for miles and the donkey rides are a world class attraction.

Fricheur 4 years ago

Seriously ??!! a big financial loss !! obviously you have no idea about the french economy and its size and the tourism spending especially in South of France.
wake up!
France can survive without without...

Tarig 4 years ago

Tell that to the bankers who crashed the world's economy through numerous acts of fraud and walked away scottfree with 7 figure bonuses! Don't act so smug and superior, Europe is just as corrupt as the rest of the world!

A Saudi nationalist 4 years ago

Jealousy mixed with racism is driving the French crazy. The king has many places around the world to choose from. It is the local economy that is loosing.
Who says the French economy is in good shape?. Obviously, you do not follow the financial reports. Germany will soon has to intefer to salvage France just like it did for Greece. Wake up

Robby 4 years ago

Umm I wonder why he chose the South Of France, after all why not close the beach to the public in Jeddah and he can have his own private playground on his doorstep.
There are many far more important high profile people that visit the south of France that take it as it is, no special closure of beaches or lifts required for them. Don't they have their own Yacht?

A7san 4 years ago

@A Saudi nationalist; given the low oil prices, you should be more worried about your own economy.

Doug 4 years ago

Anyone else enjoying the irony of someone describing them as a 'nationalist' complaining about racism?

It's a public beach. The whole of France goes on holiday in August. No doubt everyone in the local area was looking forward to enjoying a PUBLIC facility and the idea that someone rich is apparently entitled to demand it's closed for their personal enjoyment jars rather against the French value of egalite. If it had been Gerard Depardieu doing this, they would have protested. it's nothing to do with nationality or race and everything to do with someone wealthy blocking off a public facility that is supposed to be there for all people, regardless of wealth, status or skin colour.

I suspect though you find it rather difficult to understand why wealth doesn't automatically entitle you to better treatment.

procan 4 years ago

Doug...... thoughtful and well expressed comment , nice one Cheers