Saudi Arabian King Salman and a 1,000-member entourage arrived today (July 25, 2015) for holiday on the French Riviera, where over 100,000 residents have petitioned against closing the public beach outside his villa, the VOA (Voice of America) News website reports. Saudi Arabia is considered the most sacred Islamic nation, because the Prophet Muhammad was born in the Saudi city of Mecca -- the holiest city of Islam.
The king and his inner circle's three-week visit at the family's seafront villa in Vallauris will be a boon for the local economy. Hotels, restaurants, and luxury shops along the Mediterranean coast welcome the visit.
But closing the public beach for privacy and security reasons has stirred up a local storm. A petition against the "privatization" of the Mirandole beach below the Saudi villa gathered more than 100,000 signatures in a week.
The mayor of Vallauris also wrote to President Francois Hollande to protest unauthorized work done by the Saudis at the property, where a slab of concrete was poured directly onto the sand to install an elevator. Mayor Michelle Salucki wrote: "We understand the security reasons and the nation's greater interest. But nobody can exonerate himself from the laws of the land."