Wednesday 21 March 2018

Saudi king leaves France after row over nudist beach

New Saudi ruler King Salmanone
New Saudi ruler King Salmanone

Debbie Delfoy

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

A Saudi source said Salman had arrived in Morocco, which was part of his holiday programme and had nothing to do with the media coverage.

Philippe Castanet, a local French government official, added that about half of the king's 1,000-person entourage had left 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 prior to his visit, residents wrote a letter addressed to French president Francois Hollande and other senior socialist politicians, demanding that the government re-open the beach, part of which is reserved for nudists.

Closing the beach for privacy and security reasons stirred up a local storm. The king's installation of a lift from the beach to the villa, approved for temporary use by the local government, also provoked anger among some residents.

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

He said the king respected the French people and hoped his schedule next year would permit a visit to nearby Cannes.

Irish Independent

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