Sultan of Oman’s entourage allowed to park on Leuven’s pedestrianised Grote Markt
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    Sultan of Oman’s entourage allowed to park on Leuven’s pedestrianised Grote Markt

    Several black vans were spotted in the pedestrianised main square of Leuven. Credit: Geert Van Damme/Twitter

    The city of Leuven has allowed the entourage of the Sultan of Oman to use the city’s pedestrianised main square as a parking lot, following his arrival in the city at the weekend for medical reasons.

    Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, 79, arrived in the Flemish city at the weekend in order to receive medical treatment at the UZ Leuven university hospital.

    A local resident in Leuven on Monday took to Twitter to express surprise upon seeing several black vans parked in a row in front of the Sint-Pieterskerk, located in the Grote Markt inside the city’s pedestrian area.

    “Surely you can rent an entire hotel if you want to pay for it, but I did not know that the Grote Markt, too, could be purchased as parking lot,” Leuven resident Geert Van Damme wrote on Twitter, referring to the news that the sultan had booked an entire four-star hotel for his stay.

    All motorised vehicles except police and public transport vehicles are banned from entering or parking in the pedestrian area of Leuven, but a spokesperson for the local police, Nicholas Del Pieron told HLN that police were aware of the vans’ presence in the square and that all measures were “taken in accordance with the security services.”

    The sultan and his entourage arrived at Zaventem airport on Saturday with a fleet of three aircraft, and soon after made the headlines after an employee was seen delivering food to the hotel, which was privatised for his visit.

    In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had been notified of the arrival of the sultan on 7 December, and that the longest-serving leader in the Middle East was in Belgium to undergo “a series of medical checks,” giving no further details of his condition.

    In addition to the black vans, a limousine has reportedly also been spotted cruising around the city, but no sightings of the sultan have so far been reported, according to HLN.

    While the vans have since been relocated to the parking lot along the terrace of the hotel, the outlet reports that the black vans may still be allowed to park on a bus stop in the Grote Markt, which is currently unused because of the opening of a winter market in the square.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times