WATCH VIDEO: Saudi King Salman descends from plane on gold elevator
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman disembarked from a gold-clad plane via an escalator as he touched down in Indonesia with 1,000 aides and an array of expensive personal touches.
Cheering crowds welcomed the 81-year-old on Wednesday as he began the first visit by a Saudi monarch to Indonesia for almost 50 years, seeking stronger economic ties with the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, Mail Online reported.
Among his demands for the nine-day trip has been a VIP toilet built for him at a mosque in Jakarta and 506 tons of luggage including two escalators and a pair of Mercedes-Benz limousines.
King Salman was greeted by President Joko Widodo and Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian who is standing trial for blasphemy.
Crowds of flag-waving schoolchildren lined the route as a convoy of vehicles carrying the king and his entourage sped through pouring rain to a presidential palace in the nearby city of Bogor, where a marching band played the Indonesian national anthem.
Widodo hailed Salman’s trip as ‘historic’ and said he hoped it could lead to closer economic ties.
As well as cheering schoolchildren, the king heavy rain also welcomed him to the country.
Making his way to the presidential palace in Bogor, West Java, seven of his entourage surrounded him with huge golf umbrellas to shield him from the downpour.
‘As the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia will always have a special bond with Saudi Arabia,’ he told the king at the palace.
He landed in Indonesia today to join an enormous entourage of 620 people as well as 800 delegates, including ministers and 25 princes.
Jasa Angkasa Semesta (JAS) has been tasked with the huge operation of lugging the cargo from Saudi Arabia, and has dedicated 572 members of staff to handle it.
Salman said he hoped the visit would ‘contribute to the improvement of the bilateral relationship between our two countries’.
The visit – the first by a Saudi Arabian king to Indonesia for 47 years – is one of the highlights of a rare Saudi royal tour of Asia which is seeking investment as the world’s biggest oil exporter tries to diversify its economy.
Preparations have been elaborate.
Naked statues at the Bogor palace were covered up before Salman’s arrival, while local media reported that 150 chefs had been hired to cook for the king’s party and a VIP toilet had been specially built at a major mosque he will visit.
The monarch and his entourage will reportedly stay in five luxury hotels in Bali for several days following the visit to Jakarta.