Life's a beach for King Salman in Bali

Balinese Hindu local security called "Pecalang" stand guard during a security preparation for Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz visit in Nusa Dua on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on March 3, 2017.
PHOTO: AFP

King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia loves the sea.

The 81-year-old ruler, the first Saudi Arabian monarch to visit Indonesia in nearly 50 years, is enjoying the sea breeze, soft white sand and sparkling blue water of Geger Beach, Nusa Dua, just a few steps away from his hotel, the luxurious St. Regis Bali Resort.

The king and his large entourage, along with nearly 500 tons of luggage, arrived in Bali on Saturday afternoon after a three-day state visit to Jakarta and a brief trip to neighbouring country Brunei Darussalam.

During his first few days on the Hindu island of the gods, King Salman opted to stay in the hotel, which his staff had booked out entirely.

Amid tight security on Sunday afternoon, the Saudi ruler enjoyed a short time at the beach, according to reports. The hotel's management has built walkways to the beach and erected bamboo fencing covered in white fabric to provide privacy for the king, despite the beach not being closed.

Saudi king visits Indonesia bringing along huge entourage, limos, escalators

  • A Boeing 747 transporting Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz makes its final approach for landing at the Bali International Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on March 4, 2017.
  • A motorcade transporting Saudi King Salman leaves following the king's arrival at the Bali International Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar.
  • King Salman is staying at luxe resort St. Regis Bali.
  • Amid tight security on Sunday afternoon, the Saudi ruler enjoyed a short time at the beach.
  • The hotel's management has built walkways to the beach and erected bamboo fencing covered in white fabric to provide privacy for the king, despite the beach not being closed.
  • King Salman's staff had booked out the hotel entirely.
  • Saudi King Salman is visiting the Indonesian resort island of Bali from March 4 to 9.
  • The 81-year-old ruler is enjoying the sea breeze, soft white sand and sparkling blue water of Geger Beach, Nusa Dua.
  • Limousines are parked outside a government tourism office in the luxury resort area of Nusa Dua.
  • The king and his large entourage, along with nearly 500 tons of luggage, arrived in Bali on Saturday afternoon.
  • Balinese Hindu local security called "Pecalang" stand guard during a security preparation.
  • A policeman puts a sticker on a police patrol car during their preparation for King Salman's visit.
  • King Salman opted to stay in the hotel, which his staff had booked out entirely.
  • Local authorities have taken steps to increase security at Bali's most popular destinations, such as Uluwatu Temple, Garuda Wisnu Kencana Park and Ubud's famous rice terraces.
  • King Salman decided to spend his holiday in Bali because he likes the sea.
  • The government has taken VVIP security measures to safeguard King Salman in Bali.
  • As many as 2,500 police and Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel have been deployed.
  • Along with two warships and four smaller vessels in Bali waters.
  • King Salman of Saudi Arabia rides in a golf cart driven by Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the presidential palace in Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Saudi Arabia's King Salman stands as he prays at Istiqlal mosque in Jakarta
  • Saudi Arabia's King Salman called for a united fight against terrorism in a speech to Indonesia's parliament during a landmark state visit to the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.
  • King Salman began the first visit by a Saudi monarch to Indonesia in almost 50 years, seeking to strengthen economic ties with the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.
  • The king - who is accompanied by about 1,000 people, including princes and ministers
  • - disembarked from his official plane at a Jakarta airport and was welcomed by President Joko Widodo and a guard of honour.
  • Almost 460 tons of equipment have been flown in for the visit, including Mercedes limousines and escalators for the king to descend from his plane.
  • Most has been transported to the resort island of Bali, where the king will take a holiday after visiting Jakarta.
  • Salman will hold talks later with Widodo at the Indonesian leader's official residence in Bogor outside the capital Jakarta.
  • The king will give a speech to parliament on Thursday.
  • Business deals could be announced, and a series of co-operation memoranda are also set to be signed on issues ranging from security, to health and education during the three-day visit to Jakarta.
  • Indonesia will also seek approval to send more citizens to the annual hajj pilgrimage in western Saudi Arabia, which is home to Islam's holiest sites.
  • Salman kicked off his three-week Asian tour in Malaysia earlier this week, and is also set to visit Japan, China and the Maldives.

Read also: Indonesia prepares deluxe welcome for King Salman's 30 minute visit

Local authorities have taken steps to increase security at Bali's most popular destinations, such as Uluwatu Temple, Garuda Wisnu Kencana Park and Ubud's famous rice terraces, but the king has yet to visit any tourist sites.

King Salman decided to spend his holiday in Bali because he likes the sea, Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Abdullah Al Shuaibi said on Saturday.

"This island is beautiful. His Excellency King Salman likes the sea very much. He will enjoy the Bali sea during the holiday," Osama said.

A beach holiday is nothing new for the king, dubbed the guardian of Islam's holy shrines. He took a 1,000-person entourage to his exclusive holiday villa in the French Riviera in 2015, which was met with protests from local people following the closure of a public beach.

Bali Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Henky Widjaja said the king was also expected to stay at the hotel on Sunday as no information had been received about him going out.

The government has taken VVIP security measures to safeguard King Salman in Bali. As many as 2,500 police and Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel have been deployed, along with two warships and four smaller vessels in Bali waters. The measures are also supported by pecalang (traditional Balinese guards).

Arriving at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport on Saturday afternoon, Bali gave the king a grand welcome. He was greeted by 50 Balinese girls in colorful traditional attire, performing a five-minute Pendet dance.

"He was waving his hands and smiling," said provincial administration spokesperson Dewa Mahendra. "We are very proud that we can show our Balinese traditional dance to the king and his entourage."

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika, Bali Police chief Insp. General Petrus R. Golose and several prominent figures welcomed the king at the airport. The king also greeted local and religious figures, including conversing with Arabic-speaking Catholic priest Eventius Dewantoro.

Tourism players have welcomed the visit to help promote Bali among Middle Eastern visitors. Moreover, the visit could help promote religious harmony, Bali's Interfaith Communication Forum (FKUB) chairman Ida Pengelingsir Agung Putra Sukahet said.

"As a country with predominantly Muslim citizens, he decided to spend his holiday in Bali, which is predominantly Hindu. This shows that he respects other religions, given Bali is known for its Hindu culture," he said.

During a dialogue with several religious leaders in Jakarta on Friday, King Salman lauded Indonesia's tolerance and diversity.

Bali's people also showed excitement at the king's arrival with residents lining the roadside, waving and smiling as they hoped for a glimpse of the king as his motorcade passed by.

His arrival at the airport, however, disrupted 39 domestic and overseas flights, which were delayed as the runway was closed for 45 minutes for the landing.

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