Saudi king cuts short French holiday after 150,000 locals sign petition against his visit

King Salman's visit to the French Riveria has attracted controversy after a public beach was shut outside his villa

Caroline Mortimer
Monday 03 August 2015 15:55
The beach in Vallarius at the centre of the row over the Saudi visit
The beach in Vallarius at the centre of the row over the Saudi visit

The Saudi king has cut his French Riviera holiday short after a controversial beach closure lead to a petition by 150,000 local residents.

King Salman has now arrived in Morocco, which Saudi sources was to be the next part of his holiday programme, has abandoned his three-week beach holiday after just a week.

Residents objected to the closure of the public beach outside the family’s seafront villa in Vallauris and the temporary installation of a lift from the beach to the villa.

The mayor of Vallauris, Michelle Salucki, is understood to have written to President François Hollande to protest against the installation which included the construction of a cement platform.

A sign outside the beach warning people about the Saudi visit

The arrival of the King, along with his 1,000-strong entourage, drew a mixed response from locals with some businesses welcoming the boost to local businesses and others saying the decision to close the beach was a violation of French equality laws.

The Saudi visit attracted further controversy last week when it was alleged that two female police officers, posted there for security, were asked to leave by French authorities “because they did not want women guarding them”, according to the Daily Mail.

Philippe Castanet, a local French official, said around half of the King’s personal entourage left with him but did not say why the king was leaving or say if he planned to return to France.

Mr Castanet said the lift would be removed in the coming weeks.

A Saudi source said the king’s departure had nothing to do with the media coverage over his visit which had been coordinated with the French authorities and strictly followed their procedures for high security visitors.

The source added that he respected the French people and hoped to return next year to visit the Cannes film festival, which is near Vallauris.

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