Indonesia has announced that Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will visit the country in early March with an entourage of 1,500 people as reports say the monarch is planning to spend millions staying in resorts and hotels in Bali.
Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said on Tuesday that Salman would be in Indonesia from March 1 to March 9, adding that the second leg of the trip would see the king "relaxing" in Bali for six days.
Officials in Riyadh have yet to confirm the trip and its schedule. However, Salman has never been shy of promoting his lavish visits to resorts and hotels in various countries.
The ailing monarch, who is now 80, led a 300-strong entourage to Turkey last year, with local media saying that only the preparations for him to stay in a luxurious hotel suite in Ankara had cost about $10 million. They said 500 luxurious cars had been hired for the king's transport in Ankara and Istanbul. Cargo planes had shipped the king’s personal belongings in advance. The overall cost of the trip was estimated to stand at $18 million.
The monarch has also staged a similar lavish relaxing event in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population and has many expatriates in the kingdom, which means that Salman could at least anticipate less popular discontent over his lavish visit.
Salman grabbed the headlines in the summer of 2015 while he was staying in a beach resort in southern France. The king's visit, this time with a retinue of 500, prompted popular protests when it was revealed that a stretch of seafront on the Côte d’Azur in Vallauris had been closed to give the royal his full comfort. Locals said at the time that it was disgusting that someone thinks he can buy everything with his money.
All these come as Salman has acknowledged that his country is suffering economically due to the global slump in oil prices and the deadly campaign Riyadh has been engaged in for the last two years against Yemen.