PARIS (Web Desk) – French authorities have claimed that wealthy Saudis owed €3.7m ($4m) in unpaid bills to hospitals in the French capital.
The figure emerged after King Salman of Saudi Arabia ended a holiday on the French Riviera which had provoked a row about the closure of a public beach for security reasons.
A celebrity French doctor, Patrick Pelloux, tweeted: “As a gesture of politeness, the Saudi King should pay his €3.7m bill to the Paris hospital service before he leaves.”
Avant de partir le roi d Arabie saoudite pourrait payer ses factures de 3,7 millions d euros Aux hôpitaux de Paris Un geste de politesse!
— Patrick Pelloux (@PatrickPelloux) August 3, 2015
French health officials confirmed that Saudi diplomats and individuals, including members of the royal family, had left unpaid bills for roughly this amount for medical treatment in Paris, the Independent reported.
Dr Pelloux said: “We shouldn’t really care about the privatisation of a tiny beach. If it had been Barack Obama visiting we would have privatised the Mediterranean. The real problem is that super-wealthy heads of state and embassy personnel enjoy medical treatment in France and leave the bills behind them.”
Dr Pelloux, 51, is an accident and emergency physician and commentator on medical policy.
The Paris hospital service confirmed the figure for unpaid Saudi medical bills. It said that the total backlog of bills left unpaid by foreigners was €118.6m (£83m) at the end of last year.
In the case of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, the government is said to be reluctant to pursue claims which could upset much larger transactions. At the end of June, for instance, Paris and Riyadh signed contracts for arms and other exports worth €10.8bn.
King Salman left France on Sunday after spending eight days in his villa near Cannes. Originally, the Saudi King was said to be planning to spend three weeks in France.