Ahmadinejad shows his frugal side

A Special report to The Jerusalem Post on the Iranian president's visit to Indonesia.

ahamdinejad in indonesia (photo credit: AP)
ahamdinejad in indonesia
(photo credit: AP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is, reluctantly, sleeping in the $3,500-a-night, 595-square-meter Presidential Suite at the Mulia Hotel here during his three-day visit to Indonesia, having originally intended to sleep in an 8x8 meter bedroom on the second floor of the Iranian ambassador's residence. The Iranian leader, who arrived here at around midnight Tuesday at the head of a delegation numbering more than 100, had no choice but to accept the lavish hotel accommodation since it was provided by the host nation, said Hamid Shaleki, the press attache at the Iranian Embassy. "It would not have been a good response for him to have refused." Ahmadinejad, 50, had been set to stay at the residence of Iranian Ambassador Behrouz Kamalvandi, which happens to be about 500 meters from the US ambassador's residence in central Jakarta. Workers had even installed security cameras in the relevant bedroom, general security measures had been tightened, meals had been cooked and fruit provided. The president's delegation included some 40 of his own guards. For Ahmadinejad, who is known to lead a simple lifestyle, including driving an old Peugeot to work, the Mulia Hotel suite constitutes quite a departure. The most prestigious in the hotel, on the 40th floor, it "comprises two wings distinguishing its living and entertainment areas, with separate dining and living rooms, fully equipped kitchen with private outside access, and a connecting room to house staff or personal guards," according to the Mulia's Web site. The site also describes "its leathered executive office, sumptuous king-sized four-poster bed, spa, sauna and gym facilities." Ahmadinejad, who has been seeking political support for his nuclear energy program in this, the world's most populous Muslim country, met Wednesday with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. He is also giving lectures at universities and will meet local clerics. At the weekend, he is to fly to Bali for a development summit.