Saudi king leaves France, Riviera beach to re­open

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

King Sal­man of Saudi Ara­bia un­ex­pect­edly left the French Riviera on Sun­day, lo­cal of­fi­cials said, adding that a beach that had been con­tro­ver­sially closed for the royal’s hol­i­day would now re­open to the public.

Eight days af­ter ar­riv­ing in south­ern France for what was billed as a three-week lux­ury va­ca­tion, the monarch boarded a flight from Nice air­port to the Moroccan city of Tang­iers, AlpesMar­itimes re­gion of­fi­cial Philippe Castanet told AFP.

Ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal pre­fec­ture at least half of the king’s 1000-strong del­e­ga­tion was also leav­ing.

“We can as­sume that the king has ended his stay at GolfeJuan,” Castanet said, re­fer­ring to the Cote d’Azur town of Val­lau­ris Golfe-Juan where the monarch’s lux­ury hol­i­day villa is lo­cated.

The Saudi em­bassy had ear­lier said the stay would last un­til around Aug. 20.

Se­cu­rity mea­sures that had been put in place around the king’s villa would now be “pro­gres­sively lifted,” Castanet said, adding that the stretch of beach in front of the villa would re­open to sun­bathers and swim­mers on Mon­day.

The clo­sure of Mi­ran­dole beach for se­cu­rity and pri­vate sea­sons had an­gered lo­cals, gen­er­at­ing global head­lines and prompt­ing more than 150,000 peo­ple to sign a pe­ti­tion protest­ing against the “pri­va­ti­za­tion” of the public strip of sand.

“The beach will re­open at 9:00 am,” Val­lau­ris mayor Michelle Salucki told AFP.

The Saudi monarch’s choice of Val­lau­ris Golfe- Juan near Cannes for his hol­i­day in the sun gen­er­ated mixed emo­tions in the area.

While some res­i­dents grum­bled at the clo­sure of the beach, lo­cal traders rolled out the red car­pet for the monarch and his big-spend­ing friends.

Some mem­bers of the king’s en­tourage had voiced their un­hap­pi­ness at the level of scru­tiny that their ar­rival in­duced.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear whether the royal de­par­ture was linked to the con­tro­versy over the beach.

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