Saudi monarch turns selfie king on Asia tour

Saudi Arabia's King Salman posing with former Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri and her daughter Puan Maharani on Thursday at the presidential palace in Jakarta, as President Joko Widodo looks on.
Saudi Arabia's King Salman posing with former Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri and her daughter Puan Maharani on Thursday at the presidential palace in Jakarta, as President Joko Widodo looks on.PHOTO: REUTERS

King Salman's appearance on social media a contrast with usual formality of his state visits

JAKARTA • Saudi Arabia's King Salman has embraced the "selfie", taking part in a number of light-hearted, self-shot pictures and videos during his tour of Asia that contrast with the pomp and formality of most of the octogenarian monarch's trips abroad.

In the first days of a lengthy regional tour, the King has appeared with top-ranking officials in Indonesia and Malaysia in pictures and clips that have been shared online millions of times.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo shared on Facebook a video of himself dining with the King at the presidential palace in Bogor, near the capital Jakarta.

In the video, both men comment on the visit, the first to Indonesia by a Saudi king in nearly five decades, and give viewers a rare peek into a state event.

As Mr Joko holds what appears to be a phone camera, the King is seen dining on soup and using gold-coloured cutlery before commenting in Arabic on his 12-day visit to Indonesia, the longest leg of his month-long tour of Asia.

"I'm very happy to be here in Indonesia and with the Indonesian people," King Salman says to the camera, as an interpreter sitting behind him translates into Bahasa Indonesia. He added: "For us, Indonesians are our brothers and sisters. Very noble people."

Mr Joko responded by thanking him. "Hopefully this visit could strengthen the relationship between the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, a relationship that would benefit (both countries)."

The King was also photographed posing for a selfie with former president Megawati Sukarnoputri and her daughter Puan Maharani, who is a member of Mr Joko's Cabinet.

Indonesia has a high concentration of Facebook and Twitter users, and selfies are a mainstay of social media in the world's fourth most populous country.

Earlier this week, King Salman was seen in a selfie posted on Twitter with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, during the first stop on his sweep across Asia. Though rare, the King has made occasional appearances on social media before, including when he posed last year for a selfie in Qatar with a teen who survived cancer.

REUTERS, THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 04, 2017, with the headline 'Saudi monarch turns selfie king on Asia tour'. Print Edition | Subscribe