Saudi Arabia's King in Rochester - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Fanna Haile-Selassie

Saudi Arabia's King in Rochester

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ROCHESTER, MN (FOX 47) -- Fresh from the G20 Summit in Washington D.C., King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has stopped in Rochester.

In fact, several family members have been in Rochester for several days. And when foreign leaders and royalty come to town, security gets tight.

From what we've heard, King Abdullah touched down at the Rochester airport on Saturday, but he's only here for a quick stay.

He may leave as early as Monday night.

The Kahler Hotel has been known to house some famous guests.

Now that the third phase of construction on the International Hotel's top 2 floors of the Kahler is complete, many of the royal family members are sitting very comfortably.

"Everything from heated bathroom floors, to the finest linens and bedding packages and furniture that we can get for our hotel."

Bruce Fairchild, the general manager of the Kahler says, there was a drop off in elite customers from the Middle East after 9/11.

The Rochester Chief of Police says he's noticed the same.

"I think for a good period of time after 9/11, we did see a decrease in visitors, particularly from the Middle East. In recent months, in recent years, that's changed, and I would tend to believe, we're probably back to where we were pre 9/11."

Fairchild says immediately after 9/11, it was much more difficult to get Visas for Mayo patients living in the Middle East. He also says many of the foreigners were concerned about how Americans would view them.

Now, with the increase in Middle Eastern visitors, Fairchild attributes the reason of their visits to the Mayo Clinic.

"Health care is getting better around the world, which is a good thing. But the more difficult cases still come to places like Mayo and Cleveland Clinic and some of the higher-end places because they're the best. They're the most adept in dealing with it."

Security around town is becoming tight as well. You may have noticed an increase in black or dark grey cars lined up outside of downtown buildings. Besides the family's own personal protection, they get additional support from the state of Minnesota.

"Anytime we have a visiting dignitary that requires secret service or state department protection, it does utilize our resources. It doesn't mean that we are so heavily invested in that, that our response on the streets suffers."

It also doesn't hurt to have royalty come to the city during hard economic times. Many shops have remain tight-lipped on whether they've seen some family members in their stores, but off camera, some shop owners told us that they're definitely not complaining.

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