Saudi king's French Riviera holiday provokes beach protest

Saudi king's French Riviera holiday provokes beach protest

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A general view of the public beach called "La Mirandole" which is seen below the villa own …

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A general view of the public beach called "La Mirandole" which is seen below the villa own …

NICE, France (Reuters) – Saudi King Salman & a 1,000-entourage were due to arrive on Saturday for holiday on the French Riviera, where over 100,000 residents have petitioned against the closure of the public beach outside his villa.

The new king & his inner circle's three-week visit at the family's seafront villa in Vallauris, where U.S. actress Rita Hayworth celebrated her wedding to Prince Aly Khan of Pakistan in 1949, will be a boon for the local economy.

But the closure of the public beach for privacy & security reasons has stirred up a local storm. A petition against the "privatization" of the Mirandole beach below the Saudi villa gathered more than 100,000 signatures in a week.

p> The mayor of Vallauris moreover wrote to President Francois Hollande to protest against unauthorized work done by the Saudis at the property, where a slab of concrete was poured directly onto the sand to install an elevator.

"We understand the security reasons & the nation's greater interest. But nobody can exonerate himself from the laws of the land," mayor Michelle Salucki wrote.

Hotels, restaurants & luxury shops along the Mediterranean coast, by contrast, welcome the visit. Several hundred members of the royal entourage will stay at top hotels along the coast.

"The economic impact for us, yet moreover restaurants, chauffeurs & all those who worked at his villa, is real," said Serge Reinhard, director of the four-star Hotel Montaigne in Cannes where half of the rooms have been booked by Saudis.

France has been nurturing new links with Saudi Arabia & other Gulf Arab countries over the last three years due to its tough stance on Iran & similar positions on conflicts across the Middle East, & is beginning to see commercial rewards.

(Reporting by Matthias Galante in Nice; Writing by Michel Rose; Editing by Tom oHeneghan)

Saudi King SalmanPrince Aly Khan

Source: “Reuters”

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