The Saudi king spent $100 million on a weekend of partying for over 1,000 people
Among the world's royal families, perhaps the Saudis are the most difficult to swallow. Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 150 people by beheading, many of them open for public viewing. The country's number of beheadings has swelled since 2014, around the same time that the nation opened a US-backed covert war in Yemen. The war in Yemen doesn't make headlines. But, the hypocrisy of King Salman does.
President Trump, despite his hardline rhetoric on Islam, is buddy-buddy with King Salman and the Saudi state. Perhaps the king has learned a thing or two about partying from his Western allies.
King Salman's preferred place of vacation is Tangier, Morocco. 1.5 per cent of Morocco's entire annual revenue from tourism is expected to come from King Salman's visit.
In a 74-acre estate, the king worth a billion dollars (1.38 billion to be exact) put up over 1,000 of his security personnel, relatives, advisers and ministers in 800 different hotel rooms. A fleet of over 200 luxury cars is also expected to rally at the estate, which contains restaurants, medical equipment, and luxurious seaside views. Three helipads and 1,500 meters of concrete wall make the estate more of a compound, or a micro-city, than a vacation home.
A convoy of 100 black vehicles is expected to escort the king and his retainers through the city of Tangier. The 81-year old king and his royal family of princes, of course, are known for their materialism, partying, and decadent love of alcohol.
In the most Islamic country in the world, where no mercy is spared for the safety and free speech of its citizens, the royals live the lifestyles of the rich and famous, rejecting core Islamic doctrines.
While the king rented out 1.5 per cent of Morocco's tourism industry, the myriad of Saudi princes travelled to Europe with an armada of 300 yachts, to enjoy the secular, feminist Western world.
The coverage of King Salman's vacation is remarkably neutral and moderate, despite the fact that he runs a repressive theocratic state where women can not drive and can not rely on the law to protect them in cases of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or bodily autonomy.
They are a close US ally, and our tax dollars have paid them billions in the past, including a massive $112 billion arms deal negotiated by the Obama administration. This money, along with 8-billion-dollar fighter jets, is apparently not considered excessive spending by Republicans or Democrats. But who am I to question the machinations of the war economy, the vaunted Aries of our time?
International readers will view the story of king Salman's vacation with eyes of either envy or outrage. I propose a third option - realism about the true nature of power.
The rules of the society do not apply to the leaders. The chaste humility enforced upon commoners is rejected by those who have no laws and only riches to spend.
If you have a problem with Donald Trump, then king Salman is just a reminder that people like Trump are everywhere, and they occupy the palaces, statehouses and kingdoms of the world. After all, the current President of the Philippines has thrown a man out of a helicopter, and bragged about it.