The Royals

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — 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 an escalator, 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 Qur’an.

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.

According to reports in the Indonesian press, the Saudi royal is estimated to have brought 459 metric tonnes of cargo with him on his trip – including two Mercedes-Benz s600 limousines and two portable electric elevators.

Adji Gunawan of the airfreight company PT Jasa Angkasa Semesta (JAS) told the Antara news agency that his company had been appointed to handle the cargo, which had arrived in the country before the King. Adji said that his company was employing a total of 572 workers to deal with the Saudi King’s luggage.

The Jakarta Post reports that the Saudi group totals about 1,500 people, including 10 ministers, 25 princes and at least 100 security personnel

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 per cent 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. He 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 encourage adoption of a highly doctrinaire interpretation of the Qur’an.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Goodbye, Canada. We’ll be back. That was the promise Saturday from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

— Image Credit: Ken Sakamoto / Black Press
 by  Staff Writer – Victoria News

The Duke of Cambridge gave a heartfelt thank you to Canadians for welcoming the Royal couple and their children so warmly.

Prince William’s speech came during the final day of the week-long visit to B.C. and Yukon with Kate, Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

“Catherine and I are incredibly grateful to the people of Canada for the warmth and hospitality they have extended to our family over the last week. We have loved our time in British Columbia and Yukon and will never forget the beautiful places we have seen and the many people who have been kind enough to come to welcome us in person.

“We feel very lucky to have been able to introduce George and Charlotte to Canada. This country will play a big part in the lives of our children and we have created such happy memories for our family during this visit.

“Canada is a country of optimism, generosity and unrivalled natural beauty. I hope we have helped all Canadians celebrate what makes this country great. We will see you again soon.”

Well-wishers were enthralled by the sight of the waving children, Prince George and Prince Charlotte, from the floatplane dock before beginning their journey home to Kensington Palace.

Thousands of onlookers cheered and clapped as the royals walked along the floating dock to board their flight.

Prince George, 3, wearing red shorts and a sweater, waved both hands enthusiastically at the spectators. He was greeted by flower boy Daniel Brachman, 11, of Victoria. But the young Prince did not exchange high-fives with Brachman. Prince George also refused to high-five Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week.

Princess Charlotte, wearing a red sweater and a dress, walked along the dock holding her mother, Kate’s, hand. The family faced the crowd and waved before boarding the float plane.