SAUDI ARABIA’S King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud kicked off his month-long Asia tour by arriving in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with a 1,500-strong entourage including 10 ministers.
So far, the octogenarian monarch has raised eyebrows by flying in 14-tonne “golden” escalator, bulletproof limousines and 460 tonnes of luggage.
Since Feb 26, the king has also visited Indonesia and Brunei. He is also due to visit Japan and China.
Apart from consolidating the kingdom’s ties with fast-growing Asian economies — drumming up billions in investments to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil dependency — King Salman is on a campaign to promote “moderate” Islam in Muslim-majority Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.
Wahhabism, the conservative strand of Islam widely practised in Saudi Arabia, has been linked with extremism and terrorism, but the king’s visit is also aimed at tackling the perception.
“The challenges that the Muslim community and the world in general faces, like terrorism and the clash of civilizations and the lack of respect for a country’s sovereignty, require us to unite in dealing with these challenges,” he said, as quoted by the Jakarta Post.