Europe

Saudi king cuts short controversial holiday in France

The beach below King Salman's villa in Vallauris. 27 July 2015 Image copyright AP
Image caption The closure of the beach and the erection of a lift angered local people

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has cut short a holiday on the French Riviera where the closure of a beach for his security caused an uproar.

After only eight days of what was planned as a three-week stay, the king flew on to Morocco, officials said.

With him were at least half of his 1,000-strong entourage, regional official Philippe Castanet added.

More than 100,000 people signed a petition against the closure of the public beach at Vallauris.

The Mirandole beach is directly below King Salman's private villa and French officials agreed to seal it off for the monarch's security.

Critics of the move said it was a breach of French laws on equality.

A Saudi source quoted by Reuters said the king's departure was part of his holiday programme and not connected to the media coverage the visit had attracted.

'Lift removed'

It is not clear if the king plans to return to the villa this summer.

Mr Castanet told AFP news agency that the beach would reopen to the public on Monday morning.

He said a temporary lift connecting the beach with the villa - which had also angered local residents - would be removed in the coming weeks.

Building the lift had involved pouring a large concrete slab on the sand.

The royal party generated mixed emotions among the local population.

While some were unhappy at the closure of the beach, many traders warmly welcomed the king and his wealthy entourage.


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