Salman bin Abdu Aziz al-Saud, King of #Saudi Arabia, is determined to chart a new path for his country, heart of the Arab world and center of the Islamic religion, into the future. He’s slowly but surely turning the Saudi economy away from near-whole dependence on oil. He has also made inroads towards embracing pop culture, allowing a Comic Con to be hosted in Jeddah. Lastly, the King has gotten heat from conservative quarters of the faith.
But #King Salman will not be deterred now; he’s decided to further sell this direction to the world by going on a tour of Asia, seeing him in #Indonesia on Wednesday March 1. And to look at his accompanying staff, luggage and cargo, one would think he’s taken even the kitchen sinks for his trip.
King Salman’s trip to the most populous Muslim country in the world, after a February 26 stop in Malaysia, is the first such visit from a King of Saudi Arabia to Indonesia in nearly 50 years. He’s staying for nine days, moving from Jakarta to West Java and then a respite in the island of Bali. As stated above, the King isn’t one to travel light, as is characteristic of some Middle Eastern royals. His official delegation is comprised of several aircraft, all carrying between them a jaw-dropping 459 metric tons worth of baggage (as heavy as 183 African elephants). And it’s not suitcases and chests; there are two Mercedes-Benz S600 limos for his use, as well as a couple of installable free-standing private elevators..
Selfie saya dengan Raja Salman , Custodian of the two Holy Mosques ! Persahabatan yang amat akrab. pic.twitter.com/nK8aOyKYfi— Mohd Najib Tun Razak (@NajibRazak) February 27, 2017
What would he need elevators for? One of them at least is being shipped to Bali in advance of King Salman’s arrival, to be installed on a beach to quickly get him down from a higher elevation to the seashore with privacy and minimal fuss. The same stunt was done on a French beach in 2015 during the Saudi monarch’s state visit there; the beach it was installed in was also closed for his stay, causing a great deal of outcry from local beachgoers.
If you’re thinking that all the gear, equipment and such is simply for the King of Saudi Arabia’s convenience alone, think again. It’s also for the sake of his entourage, counting up to 1,500 people, from government ministers (10), to princes (25) and other delegates (800). To ferry them all required the charter of 36 flights arriving in Indonesia over for a three-week period. They will be aided in attending to King Salman’s arrival by 572 airport service staff, and a garrison of 10,000 police personnel deployed for the state guest’s protection. Thankfully the Saudi ambassador to Indonesia assures the press that Bali will not be closed off to tourists for the duration of King Salman’s stay.