Golden escalators, 1000-person entourages and luxury to the nth degree. It’s all in the line of duty for Saudi Arabia’s billionaire King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud.
- King flies 2 golden escalators from his personal plane with entourage of 620 staff and 800 delegates.
- Over 100 bodyguards, 6 Boeings and 459 tonnes of luggage during rare tour of Asia.
- Geopolitical context motivating this lavish month-long regional tour by the king merits a closer look.
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules usually sees action cargo tanks and field artillery over international distances.
As part of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud’s fleet, however, the military-grade aircraft is reportedly used to haul an estimated 500 tonnes of royal luggage, loaded with 2 limousines and a pair of golden escalators.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman arrives in Japan as part of a four-day visit on his Asian tour, AFP pic.twitter.com/5H3rBQeUAU
— ⓐⓣⓞⓏ (@atozarabic) March 13, 2017
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is on a month-long diplomatic tour of the Asian-Pacific region and the diplomatic pomp has been ramped up to new levels of indulgence and comfort.
On the King’s schedule is Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, China and the Maldives as he travels in an official capacity with a 600 strong delegation of princes, generals and Saudi minders.
The lavish extent of the King’s diplomatic spending and opulent lifestyle have been revealed, here are some of our favorite indulgences the king could just not do without…
- 459 tonnes of luggage
Adji Gunawan of airfreight firm PT Jasa Angkasa Semesta told Antara News his company employed a sum total of 572 workers to deal with the Saudi king’s luggage, including personal holiday items, cars and clothes.
- 100 bodyguards
King Salman’s 1,500-strong entourage numbers 25 princes, 10 ministers and at least 100 bodyguards aside military generals and assorted minders and fixers, with a net worth well $100 billion
- 6 Boeing passenger jets
6 Boeing passenger jets were chartered in order to transport the King’s entourage of 1,500 people, for the trip — the fleet includes his personal 747 plane, painted in gold in course.
— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) March 2, 2017
The Saudi king is visiting some Asian nations for first time in 46 years and it comes at a crucial moment for the economic future between Saudi Arabia and emerging Asian nations, many with large Muslim populations.
Saudi Arabia is prioritizing a reducution in its dependence on oil revenues.While crude oil prices have improved from their low in 2015 and 2016, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and Maldives are geopolitical targets for the kingdom as Sunni Muslim majorities.
As foreign policy has grown unpredictable and unstable since the inauguration of Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia looks to China and Japan as geopolitical counterweights in the Middle East.
The diplomatic outreach to the Asia-Pacific follows a pattern of dynamis since King Abdullah’s death in 2015.
Saudi King Salman’s Spending Habits
- In 2015, he and his 1,000-person entourage caused the closure of a French Riviera beach for three days. The episode caused outrage when the king’s entourage poured concrete on the beach and installed an elevator directly on the sand.
- Salman booked the entire Four Seasons hotel, 222 rooms, when he visited Washington DC back in 2015.
- 500 limousines were ordered into Tokyo to transport the king around the Japanese capital. 1,200 hotel rooms at Tokyo’s top hotels were block booked to house staff, security and delegates.
Japan woos Saudi Arabia for world’s largest IPO. King Salman and Prime Minister Abe agree on nine-point blueprint titled Vision 2030. pic.twitter.com/l2y3hNGSDV
— *Dr Barkat SOOMRO* (@DrBarkatSoomro) March 20, 2017
King Salman is not the only leader with a high lifestyle cost and expensive tour tag. When Barack Obama visited Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania in 2013 he was accompanied by 56 support vehicles and several hundred U.S. Secret Service agents.