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Saudi king cuts French holiday short amid protests

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has cut short his French Riviera holiday amid a growing row over the closure of a beach in front of the king's property during his stay, AFP reported on Sunday.

After only eight days of what was planned as a three-week luxury vacation, the king flew on to Morocco, AFP reported, citing regional officials. According to the local prefecture at least half of the king's 1,000-strong delegation was also leaving the property in the Cote d'Azur town of Vallauris Golfe-Juan.

The Mirandole beach in front of the king's property has been at the center of a row with French locals over access in recent weeks. Now the king had left, it would reopen to the public, officials said.

A picture shows the villa of the Saudi king in Vallauris Golfe-Juan, southeastern France. The closure of the beach in front of his villa has incensed local residents.
VALERY HACHE| AFP | Getty Images
A picture shows the villa of the Saudi king in Vallauris Golfe-Juan, southeastern France. The closure of the beach in front of his villa has incensed local residents.

The closure of the beach for security and private seasons had angered locals, generating global headlines and prompting more than 150,000 people to sign a petition protesting against the "privatization" of the public strip of sand.

It was not immediately clear whether the royal departure was linked to the controversy over the beach, however.

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