Manama: The mystery of the silver Mercedes with Saudi licence plates parked in an Israeli city has been reportedly solved.
The car was spotted last week in Jaffa’s Clock Tower Square by Jacky Hugi, the Middle East editor for Israel’s Army Radio, who posted the picture on Twitter.
The unprecedented sight of a Saudi car in Israel triggered torrents of speculation and comments on social networks.
On Tuesday, Saudi daily Makkah said that the luxury car belonged to an American national working in Saudi Arabia.
“We contacted the owner and he said he was an American in his 70s working in the construction sector in Saudi Arabia as a technical consultant,” the daily reported.
The US expatriate said that he was on holidays in Israel and that his papers were checked four times by the Israeli police during his trip because of the licence plates.
The consultant said he often drove the car between the Red Sea port city of Jeddah and the Saudi capital Riyadh. He was caught 14 times by the Saher radar system installed by traffic authorities to check the speed of vehicles. One of the fines was recorded in the Eastern city of Dammam and the others in Riyadh, the daily said
The US citizen bought the 2008 Mercedes one and a half years ago in Jeddah. He has another private car and a motorcycle.
Saudi Arabia, like most Arab countries, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
In May, Saudi Arabian Airlines canceled a contract with a Portuguese company for taking an off-duty airliner with Saudi Arabian Airlines branding for maintenance at Ben Gurion International Airport in Israel
Hi Fly flew the jet, an A330-300, carrying only crew members to Ben Gurion Airport for a “routine maintenance procedure.”
The plane was owned by a European company that leased it to Saudia. According to the Saudi airliner, contracts for leased planes prevent them from landing or passing through countries that do not have relations with Saudi Arabia.
Saudia said that by taking the plane to Tel Aviv, Hi Fly committed a blatant violation of the contract that mandates that the leasing company obtain written approval mentioning the airports where it is to land or undergo routine maintenance.
According to Saudia officials, landing or operation processes should take place in a country that has diplomatic relations with the Saudi Arabia to enable its staff and the Civil Aviation Authority to follow up on the maintenance operation at any time.