Asia

A Bali holiday fit for a Saudi king

king salman, jokowi Image copyright AP
Image caption Saudi King Salman rides on a golf cart with Indonesian President Joko Widodo during their meeting at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta.

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud is visiting Indonesia with a huge entourage. After extensive bilateral talks he's now on holiday on the popular island of Bali, and has apparently enjoyed the place so much, he's extended his stay by three days.

BBC Indonesian's Christine Franciska looks at why this extraordinary visit has got Indonesians talking.

Open beaches but bamboo fences

The Indonesia visit is part of a month-long Asia tour for the king, that includes Malaysia, Brunei, Japan, China and the Maldives.

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Media captionKing Salman descended from his plane in style

After attending bilateral meeting in Jakarta, King Salman flew to Bali on Saturday, on six Boeing planes and one Hercules.

He took along a 1,500-strong entourage - including 25 princes - and hundreds of tonnes of equipment and luxury goods.

When the king disembarked the plane - via his own gold-coloured escalator - there were at least 2,500 Indonesian police and military personnel ready for him to guard the island.

Image copyright Reuters

He is staying at a luxury resort a few steps from the beach at Nusa Dua.

Question were being asked about whether the beach would be closed during his visit, as happened on a public beach in southern France two years ago.

But instead, reports say the hotel's management built special walkways and erected bamboo fencing covered in white fabric to provide privacy.

How about Bali's semi-naked women statues?

Whenever Muslim leaders from conservative countries go on visits, there is one thing that often sparks a debate: do you need to cover naked statues to respect the guests?

Image copyright AFP / Getty
Image caption Bali is home to many statues of Hindu gods and bare-chested women

Last year a Rome museum covered up classical nude sculptures in temporary wooden cartons during a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

In Indonesia, the answer is yes, and no.

Some naked statues in Bogor Palace, where the king met President Joko Widodo, were covered with cloth, as a sign of respect for the Muslim monarch.

But officials in Bali - a majority Hindu island in the majority Muslim country - said they would not cover up the ubiquitous statues of deities and semi-naked women.

"We're just going to leave [the statues] as they are, we don't have to cover up anything because it is our culture," Bali local government spokesman Dewa Mahendra told AFP, adding that the statues "are cultural creations" and art.

Intruders armed with poems

He may have had his privacy, but local police did arrest two women who tried to breach security to meet King Salman.

One of them, a 41-year-old woman, tried to enter the St Regis Hotel to give the king 500-pages of poetry, local police told BBC Indonesian.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A view of part of the grounds of the Hilton Bali Resort located in the luxury resort area of Nusa Dua

"This is not a big threat," said Bali Police chief Insp Gen Petrus R. Golose. "It might be because there are a lot of media coverage, so people want to come here and see King Salman."

Mr Golose said the two intruders had been sent for psychiatric evaluations.

'Charming princes'

While fans may have no luck getting near the king, they could certainly stalk some of princes on Instagram, to see what they have been doing.

Image copyright Instagram - Yolofahad
Image caption Prince Fahad bin Faisal Al Saud posted a throwback photo of his previous trip to Bali on Saturday.

Prince Faisal bin Khalid bin Sultan and Prince Abdulrahman bin Badr are active on social media, Antara news agency reports.

But Prince Fahad bin Faisal Al Saud has been the one receiving a lot of the attention.

He's not believed to be part of the entourage, but has visited Bali before and has a regularly updated and varied Instagram account.

On Wednesday, he posted a video of King Salman's visit with the hashtag "Thank you Indonesia", winning a lot of love from internet users.

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