World

Saudi King's KL visit: Personal escalator, cars flown in

KUALA LUMPUR Malaysia welcomed Saudi Arabia's King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud yesterday for the start of a month-long Asian tour, where he will build ties and seek to draw more investments to the oil-rich Gulf nation.

The visit is the first by a Saudi king to Malaysia in more than a decade, as it courts Asian investors for the sale of a 5 per cent stake in state firm Aramco next year, expected to be the world's biggest IPO.

Malaysian state television yesterday showed live footage of the octogenarian king descending from his plane on an escalator flown in with his delegation.

He was received by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak before being whisked away in a heavily guarded convoy for a state ceremony at the Parliament grounds.

A 600-strong delegation is accompanying the king, Reuters reported.

King Salman also plans to visit Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, China, the Maldives and Jordan "to meet with the leaders of those countries to discuss bilateral relations and regional and international issues of common concern," a royal court statement carried on Saudi Arabia's state media SPA reported.

Besides travelling with his own escalator, King Salman has also flown in two personal cars.

His entourage has completely booked out three luxury hotels in Kuala Lumpur for the duration of the visit.

After Malaysia, he is expected to travel to Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia from March 1 to 9 with an entourage of 1,500 people, followed by a trip to Japan from March 12 to 14, officials in those countries said.

King Salman is expected to spend the last two weeks of next month on holiday in the Maldives, according to a Maldives diplomat.

Meanwhile, Jakarta Post quoted an Indonesian airfreight service provider as saying that it was handling 459 tonnes of cargo, including two Mercedes-Benz S600 limousines, during the visit. PT Jasa Angkasa Semesta president director Adji Gunawan saidthe Mercs had arrived in Denpasar on Feb 18.

One electric lift arrived in Halim on Feb 21, while another landed in Denpasar on Feb 22 along with other equipment.

The company is deploying 178 workers in Jakarta and 394 workers in Denpasar for the visit.

Saudi ArabiamalaysiaNajib Razak