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French beach closed off for Saudi king

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French authorities today closed off the beach in front of the Riviera villa of Saudi King Salman, a move that has incensed many locals as the seaside is normally open to the public.

Authorities signed an order blocking access to about a kilometre of beach in front of the villa from 8:00 am today, with police officers blocking access.

The ban had previously been scheduled to take effect when the king arrives later today, but was brought forward to prevent an occupation of the beach before its controversial closure.

Beach access is normally open in France, and tensions often flare when towns close them off partially by granting concessions for firms offering rentals of parasols and chairs.

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition protesting the “privatisation” of the beach in front of the Saudi king’s villa.

French authorities may close off beach access for security reasons, however.

A ban on approaching closer than 300 metres (yards) of the villa by sea goes into effect later in the day.

King Salman was due to arrive by private plane Saturday afternoon at Nice airport and head directly to the private villa in Vallauris, located between Cannes and Antibes, a source said.

He is being accompanied by an entrourage of more than 1,000 people.