Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, March 3, 2017



Every day, a president form one nation visits a Prime Minister from another country. So, normally, the DUNER BLOG doesn’t cover such items. HOWEVER… When the Saudi King’s flotilla of luxury jets touched down in Indonesia yesterday, we felt the need to blog. Why? Well, when the Saudi monarch travels, he travels in style. Not since Mansu Musa has any king ever traveled so lavishly. Let’s run down the details.

First of all, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud doesn’t travel alone. More than 1,500 Saudi delegates, aides, chefs, bodyguards, advisers and servants also accompany him. (Not to mention twenty-five royal princes.) To carry this ginormous entourage, the Royal family uses seven specially-equipped airplanes. Did we mention the 506 tons of luggage? Granted, a lot of this weight is the two S600 Mercedes Benz limousines. (Bulletproof plates are heavy!) Finally, there are his clothes. We can only imagine how many robes, clocks, bishts and sandals the King and his people have packed.

Check out the interior of the Royal jet!

Next, let's review what happened when he landed in Jakarta. Naturally, the king had a couple minor requests for the Indonesian government. Immediately upon arrival, he demanded a gold-plated escalator to take him from his Airbus Dreamliner cabin to the tarmac below. Next, he needed an elevator assist him up to a royal platform. Tomorrow, he'll travel to the famed Isfiqulal Mosque (the largest in SE Asia.). Fortunately, a special VIP toilet was installed just for him...if nature calls. Oh, don't forget the luxury hotels. Four in Jakarta and five in Bali are completely taken over by the enormous Saudi delegation this week.

You’re wondering: Why are the Indonesians going so crazy for the Saudi king? Hmm. Maybe it’s the $20 billion he plans to invest into the nation’s companies and infrastructure. See, King Abdullah knows that nothing lasts forever. Hybrid cars might suddenly take over the planet, putting petroleum-based economies in peril. Naturally, Saudi Arabia is looking to diversify. In addition to the $6 billion refinery they will build in Java, they are investing in mining, textiles and manufacturing as well.

Sadly, lost in the media coverage of the Saudi’s grandiose lifestyle is the historical significance of the visit. Indonesia is the world’s largest Islamic nation. Saudi Arabia is home to world’s most important Islamic centers. Yet the two have had less than friendly relations; the last such visit was 47 years ago. Simply put, Saudis don’t like mild Indonesian Islam. Indonesians didn’t like it when the Saudis beheaded one of their maids for ambiguous crimes. But today, King Abdullah and President Widodo are putting these matters behind them. They are forging new economic ties to better both states. It just seems funny that they have to build a gold-plated escalator to start talking!

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