05:58 GMT +318 July 2019
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    Saudi Arabia's King Salman. (File)

    Saudi King To Haul 509 Tons of Cargo to Indonesia

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    Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and his 620-person entourage will require 459 metric tonnes (509 US tons) of supplies, including two Mercedez-Benz limos and two elevators, during the Saudi King’s first visit to the largest Muslim nation in over 40 years.

    Airliner PT JASA Angkasa Semesta (JAS) president Adji Gunawan said the company would need an additional 178 workers to handle cargo shipments to Jakarta, and 394 more laborers in Bali, according to the Jakarta Post. 

    Joining King Salman will be 800 delegates, 25 princes, and 10 ministers, the Post noted. A majority of the supplies, 396 tons, will be delivered to Bali, while the rest will be sent to Jakarta. 

    King Salman will stay in the nation from March 1 to March 9, according to the Jakarta Post. On Sunday, King Salman touched down in Malaysia as part of Saudi Arabia’s ‘pivot toward Asia,’ a region in which Saudi leaders see opportunity to improve mutual economic ties. 

    Specifically, the Saudis are expected to sign a deal with Jakarta officials to invest in oil refinery initiatives within Indonesia. The deal could be worth up to $25 billion, Sputnik reported, as the Indonesian state oil company, Pertamina, looks to upgrade refineries with the help of Saudi technology and investment.  

    The investment tour comes at a time when the Saudi economy has suffered from low oil prices, which have not surpassed $100 per barrel since 2014. The low prices have spurred the Saudi monarchy to seek to unload five percent of Saudi Aramco’s shares in an effort to raise cash, purported to be the largest initial public offering in history, as Sputnik reported. Further, the Saudi monarch is seeking to diversify the country’s economy, as subsequent falling prices has proven that oil reliance leaves the country vulnerable. 

    ​Salman will also visit Brunei, Japan, China, and the Maldvies, according to the Saudi Press Agency. Finally, Salman will visit Jordan before returning home. 

    Riyadh has also teamed up with Japan’s SoftBank to help diversify Saudi revenue. The two entities have agreed to cooperate on a $45-billion fund that could grow as big as $100 billion to invest in technology startups, which would make it the largest investment fund in the world. Last year, Riyadh poured $3.5 billion into San Francisco ride-sharing company, Uber. 

    In addition to courting major oil consumers, the Saudi crown is seeking to generate enthusiasm among international investors for the upcoming initial public offering of state oil company Saudi Aramco. Depending on how much the equity stake is valued by the market will dictate the company’s overall worth. For example, a $100-billion sale of Saudi Aramco shares (deemed a five percent stake in the company) would place the value of Saudi Aramco near $2 trillion, but analysts remain divided as to how much the Saudi oil giant is really worth. 

    In 2015, the Saudi entourage received flak from French citizens after the group closed down a beach on the French Riviera and poured concrete onto the sand in an unapproved effort to install an elevator. French residents launched a petition, supported by over 100,000 people, to the French government, local mayor, Michelle Salucki said. “We understand the security reasons and the nation’s  greater interest,” she said, “But nobody can exonerate himself from the laws of the land.” The monarchy secured the rights to a 300-meter exclusion zone into the sea in addition to private, sealed-off access to a public beach. Some residents decried the “disturbing and unfortunate precedent” of the French government allowing itself to “be bought” by the Saudis. “This has nothing to do with security and everything to do with personal pleasure,” local councilor Jean-Noel Falcou told the Guardian. Another politician quipped, “There’s a need for justice and equality. It’s the appropriation of a public space by a foreign head of state.”

    Critics of this view take a different tack. Michel Chevillon, president of a local hotel owners association, said, "The Saudis have a very strong spending power and don’t count cost. They order 10,000-15,000 flowers every day and hundreds of limousines that give jobs to many chauffeurs." 

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    cargo, Mercedes-Benz, Saudi Aramco, King Salman, Saudi Arabia, France, Indonesia
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