Saudi Arabia and King Salman have moved from being a closed society to one that can seek alliances not just with the US but talk to Israel, Russia and Turkey. An acquaintance of mine described a similar transition, a perpetual expat and long term suffer of wanderlust, perhaps most delightful of diseases explained to me his ailment began during his US military service when he was stationed in Japan. Then as now, US military tended to be cloistered around the base and nearby places that served expats but soldiers didn’t necessarily explore the country they are stationed in. So a disgruntled local told him, “I hope you take the time to see Japan while you live here” and my acquaintance realized he was missing out on a big opportunity and now past retirement age he’s hardly been in the US ever since. Recreating home abroad is really a kind of sickness that a simple conversation cured him of because people need to get out and explore new things, not be hunkered down and nervous. King Salman would know what it is like to see foreigners not see your country -- living in a tourist trap disguised as a nation. Very few tourists probably see the real Saudi Arabia. So the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques decided to get reinvigorated with some world travel vacationing, see a real place like Golfe-Juan Vallauris by pounding sand in the south of France. A great idea for a crown in midst of wowing the world with a strong foreign policy.
Upon arrival, his party installed a temporary Salman elevator to the beach, which was approved by France but a strong tide of upset locals were against it. The King is an old guy with money and French locals were being silly. Then the Salman party closed the beach for security reasons and to keep women out. The point of an old man learning to pronounce “Golfe-Juan Vallauris” is to pretend not to notice the racks of fresh spring lamb browning on the beach and maybe catch a cool breeze and some sunshine. The French being the San Franciscans of Europe started a protest over the beach closure and why not as the local French might have been in the habit of going there. Why King Salman even bothered to come is questionable, if he just wanted to hear people with Arabic accents on the sand near some water, Saudi Arabia is the place to go. Perhaps the King just wanted to hear a tiny tinge of a French accent pronouncing Arabic and have a croissant once in a while but the French people and the French culture were just a buzz kill for the King, a ruination of what could have been a great vacation. So he had his bags packed early and went to Morocco. Tres Fanstastique! Now the beach of Golfe-Juan Vallauris, except for the soon to be removed temporary elevator, is like the King was never there and the King is like he was never there too.