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Tags: AS | Asia | Saudi Arabia

Crowds Greet Saudi King on Rare Visit to Indonesia

Crowds Greet Saudi King on Rare Visit to Indonesia

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 05:25 AM

BOGOR, Indonesia (AP) — The first Saudi monarch to visit Indonesia in nearly half a century arrived Wednesday to an elaborate official welcome and crowds of thousands.

King Salman exited his plane at Halim airport in Jakarta using a gold-colored escalator sent from Saudi Arabia for the visit, with a portable lift carrying him the final meter or so to the ground.

He was met by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the minority Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is fighting a tough election battle after being charged with blaspheming the Quran.

The king was whisked off in a heavily secured convoy to a presidential palace in Bogor, outside of Jakarta, where tens of thousands of people, many of them schoolchildren, lined the route despite torrential rain.

Local media reported that statues of naked men and women at the palace would be covered out of courtesy to the Saudi visitors. The same step was taken when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Indonesia in January.

Salman is on a tour of Asian countries to drum up business and improve ties. On his first stop in Malaysia, oil giant Saudi Aramco signed a $7 billion deal to take a 50 percent stake in a Malaysian oil refinery. Salman will also visit Brunei, Japan, China and the Maldives, the official Saudi Press Agency has reported.

The government of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has said Salman's entourage and related delegations number about 1,500 people. They have booked out four hotels in a posh Jakarta neighborhood for the week.

Salman will spend six of his nine days in Indonesia vacationing on the resort island of Bali, a predominantly Hindu part of the Indonesian archipelago.

Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are expected to sign 10 agreements during Salman's visit in areas from religion to education and science. Indonesia has said it hopes the visit will result in $25 billion of new investment.

Indonesia practices a moderate form of Islam and has a democratic secular government, but Saudi-funded institutes in the country are known to spread a highly doctrinaire interpretation of the Quran. They are tolerated in part because Indonesia wants to at least maintain its annual quota of citizens who can enter Saudi Arabia to participate in the hajj to Islam's holiest city.

Aside from a common faith, Saudi Arabia employs hundreds of thousands of Indonesians despite a government ban on sending domestic workers there following the execution of an Indonesian maid in 2011.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Asia
The first Saudi monarch to visit Indonesia in nearly half a century arrived Wednesday to an elaborate official welcome and crowds of thousands.King Salman exited his plane at Halim airport in Jakarta using a gold-colored escalator sent from Saudi Arabia for the visit, with...
AS,Asia,Saudi Arabia
413
2017-25-01
Wednesday, 01 March 2017 05:25 AM
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