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Saudi royals 'bar' French policewomen from beach

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Saudi royals 'bar' French policewomen from beach
French police officers stand guard as a car arrives at the villa of the Saudi king in Vallauris. Photo: AFP
17:42 CEST+02:00
The storm around the Riviera beach "privatized" for the Saudi royals took a new twist on Tuesday when it emerged the Middle Eastern visitors had asked French police not to send any female officers to guard the beach.

First the Saudi royals angered the locals by commandeering a public beach all for themselves, and now they have infuriated local police by requesting that no female police officers are to be stationed on the now infamous Mirandole beach.

The claims, which first emerged in the magazine Marianne on Tuesday, were confirmed to The Local by David Michaux, a representative from the UNSA police union.

French officials defend handing beach to Saudis
(The Mirandole beach on the French Riviera. Photo: AFP)

“The French police are there to do a job, not to be the victim of discrimination,” Michaux told The Local.

According to the union rep, a female officer from the police force was asked by an emissary of the Saudi royals to leave the site on Saturday evening because she was able to see male members of King Salman's entourage on the beach.

“The officer didn't appreciate it at all. She's there to do her job,” said Michaux.

Then on Sunday when a police CRS unit turned up to take over the watch, another female member of the team was asked to stand away from the house so she could not see any Saudi men enjoying their holiday.

 

“They made her understand she couldn't be in view of the villa,” the union rep added. “We don't understand. The police are there to protect the people. We are not there to watch people bathing or whatever they do,” said Michaux.            

Another police union representative Sylvain Martinache claimed the Saudis had not actually offered an explanation for why they didn't want female police officers stationed at the beach.

“Is it because the king and his guests don't want to see women guarding them, or is it because they want to bathe out of view of any women,” Martinache asked the 20 Minutes newspaper.

“It's quite shocking. But it's diplomacy. There are around 1,000 people in this villa every evening. It's great for the local economy,” he added.

Riviera beach locked down for Saudi royals

It is understood the Ministry of the Interior got involved to try to prevent any dispute and from now on, until they leave the villa in mid-August, the Saudis will get their wish and women police officers will only be stationed at points where they cannot see the beach.

The storm about the beach kicked off earlier this month when it emerged that the Saudis had barred the public from the beach before the king had even arrived.

Over 140,000 people have since signed an open letter to France's leaders, demanding that the small beach stay open, but it has come to nothing.

Francois-Xavier Lauch, director of the office of the Alpes-Maritimes prefecture, told The Local that the closing of the beach was nothing more than a question of security.

“This move is consistent with the visit of a head of state and it would be the same if it was President Hollande visiting or Barack Obama,” he said last week.


(The Saudi king's impressive villa along the Mediterranean coast. Photo: AFP)

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