Saudi king left France holiday villa as planned: source

3rd August 2015, Comments 0 comments

Saudi King Salman has arrived in Morocco from southern France as always planned, and had no problem with media reports about his controversial Riviera holiday, an official source said Monday.

Asked why the king had left France, the source told AFP that his arrival in Morocco was "as per the holiday programme".

Salman landed in Tangiers after leaving France's Cote d'Azur on Sunday, eight days into what had been expected to be a three-week beachfront vacation.

While Salman's visit with an entourage of nearly 1,000 people was a boon for the local economy, the closure of a public beach for the royals' privacy and security sparked anger in France.

There were also complaints of controversial construction work including an elevator from the beach built only a fortnight ago for the royal visit.

The king has "a lot of appreciation" for the French people, and media reports about the trip "were not annoying", the Saudi source said, adding that security and other arrangements had been handled by the French government.

"We just followed strictly their arrangements and written procedure," he said, adding that the king hopes his schedule will allow him to return to southern France next year.

More than 150,000 people signed a petition against the closure of the strip of sand in front of the king's villa near Cannes on the Riviera between Antibes and Marseille.

Beach access is normally open in France because the coast is state-owned, but French authorities may restrict access for security reasons.

Officials allowed Salman's party to pour a cement platform on the beach for the elevator to the villa, on condition that the elevator was removed after the visit.

On Monday, workers were dismantling the elevator as local sun-lovers returned to the beach to plant their parasols.

© 2015 AFP

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