Bali gears up for Saudi king’s extravagant visit

March 3, 2017 1:00 pm
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Balinese Hindu local security ‘Pecalang’ stand guard during a rehearsal ahead of the arrival of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, in Nusa Dua, on March 3, 2017 © AFP / Sonny Tumbelaka

, Denpasar, Indonesia, Mar 3 – Luxury hotels have been booked out and security forces deployed across Bali as the resort island geared up Friday for the arrival of Saudi King Salman on the latest leg of his extravagant Indonesian tour.

Hundreds of top-end cars and SUVs are ready to transport the king, who arrives Saturday, and his vast entourage, while 396 tons of equipment have been flown in to the popular holiday island for the visit.

Salman is leading a 1,000-strong delegation, including princes and ministers, on the first visit by a Saudi Arabian monarch to the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country in almost half a century.

He arrived in Jakarta Wednesday for a state visit to an elaborate welcome. After disembarking from his plane on a escalator, he was whisked in a convoy past cheering crowds and greeted at a presidential palace by a 21-gun salute and marching band.

He will spend a week on Bali, a Hindu-majority island famed for its palm-fringed beaches. Police said five luxury hotels have been booked around the upmarket Nusa Dua resort area for the monarch and his party.

Local media reported that among the king’s baggage were his own luxury sofa and an 80-inch (200-centimetre) television to ensure he feels at home in his hotel.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (L) applauds next to parliament speaker Setyo Novanto, at the parliament in Jakarta, on March 2, 2017 © AFP / Adek Berry

About 2,500 police and military personnel, including snipers and bomb disposal experts, are being deployed around the island. The king’s party will use 360 vehicles, including Mercedes, SUVs and buses, during the visit, according to local tourism official I Ketut Ardana.

Intelligence agency officials have checked over several tourist sites that Salman and his entourage might like to visit, including the sacred temple of Uluwatu and the island’s cultural centre, Ubud.

“It is our obligation to ensure the safety of our guests and make them feel comfortable here,” Bali senior police official Made Sudana told AFP.

Indonesia is one of the highlights on the king’s three-week Asian tour, which is seeking investment opportunities as the country aims to diversify its economy away from oil.

He began the tour in Malaysia earlier this week and is also scheduled to visit Japan, China and the Maldives.

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