King Salman Bali Beach Holiday Turns into Military Exercise

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A Bali beach holiday for Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and his considerable entourage has turned into a military exercise for host Indonesia.

The octogenarian monarch and his entourage of 1,500, including 25 princes and 10 ministers, flies on Saturday to Indonesia’s Bali island aboard nine passenger jets for a private vacation. They will be guarded by at least 2,500 police and military personnel, as well as naval vessels parked offshore.

The king’s Boeing 747-jet will be met at the airport by his usual gold coloured escalator. Flown in ahead of the visit were two plane loads of cargo, including plates, carpets and two bullet-proof Mercedes, said customs official Budi Harjanto.

King Salman’s tour of Asia aims to build the kingdom’s ties with fast-growing Asian economies and drum up investment to diversify the Saudi economy away from dependence on oil. The extravagance of his official trip, punctuated by holidays, comes after an austerity drive at home caused by low oil prices.

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On the white sand beach in front of Bali’s St. Regis resort, one in a row of five-star hotels where the Saudis will stay, two meter high screens have been put up to shield guests from prying eyes. A wooden staircase has been built for the royals to access the water.

“There will definitely be marine security because there’s a section of beach where the (king) will be staying,” said Bali’s Udayana military chief Major General Kustanto Widiatmoko.

Kustanto said six ships would be deployed along with anti-terrorism police and snipers, adding he hoped security would not impinge on the Saudi group’s privacy.

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