Drama King? Saudi's Salman ends French Riviera visit after protests

Published August 3rd, 2015 - 08:47 GMT

The king of Saudi Arabia has ended his vacation on the French Riviera early following local anger about a strip of beach being closed for the visit.

King Salman left his holiday villa in Vallauris, France, just eight days into a scheduled three-week stay, the BBC reports.

The move follows protests against a decision to restrict public access to the beach below his villa. Residents were also angered by the construction of a private gateway and lift, which required concrete to be laid in the sand near the shoreline.

Local officials argued the measures, including a coast guard cordon in the waters off La Mirandole beach, were for the king's security.

King Salman and about half his 1,000-strong entourage flew to Morocco on Sunday, according to regional officials. Saudi sources indicated the early departure had nothing to do with media coverage about the beach controversy.

Last week up to 100,000 people had signed a petition in opposition to the beach closure and the unauthorized construction of the gate and lift on public property. The Saudis reportedly promised to remove the lift when they left.

Hotel owners and other vendors in Vallauris and nearby Cannes, meanwhile, expressed enthusiasm about the spending power of the king and his entourage.

Regional official Philippe Castanet told reporters the lift would be dismantled in the coming weeks and that the beach would reopen Monday.

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