A partial view of the villa, at left, and a newly built elevator (in red) to have been used to access the nearby public beach. Photograph: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman left the south of France for Morocco on Sunday, cutting short a planned three-week stay after a petition from some 150,000 residents over the closure of a public beach outside his villa.
King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, arriving on Sunday evening, at the Moroccan city of Tangier.
A Saudi source said the king had arrived in Morocco, saying this was part of his holiday programme and had nothing to do with the media coverage that his visit had attracted.
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Philippe Castanet, a local French government official, said the beach had been reopened. He added that about half of the king’s 1,000-person entourage had left along with him. He did not specify a reason for the departures nor if the monarch planned to return to France.
The planned three-week visit by the new king and his inner circle at the family’s seafront villa in Vallauris, where US actress Rita Hayworth celebrated her wedding to Prince Aly Khan of Pakistan in 1949, was expected to be a boon for the local economy.
The construction of a temporary lift has been allowed on the beach.
But the closure of the public beach for privacy and security reasons stirred up a local storm.
The king’s installation of an elevator from the beach to the villa, approved for temporary use by the local government, also provoked anger among some residents who objected to allowing him this privilege.