By Joanne Bladd
King Abdullah top present giver, gifting $190,000 in luxury gems to first family
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah showered US President Barack Obama, his family and staff with more than $300,000 worth of jewellery, ornaments and rare books during his first year in office.
The monarch of the oil-rich Gulf state was by far the most generous foreign leader, according to documents released by the US Federal Register, gifting Obama, his wife and daughters nearly $190,000 in luxury gems.
A ruby and diamond jewellery set, given by the king to Michelle Obama, was worth $132,000.
Among the gifts Obama received from King Abdullah was a marble ornament adorned with miniature gold palm trees and camels, and a Jaeger-LeCoultre brass clock.
Daughters Sasha and Malia Obama each received diamond earrings and necklaces worth more than $7,000.
Top White House aides were also on the receiving end of King Abdullah’s generosity, collecting watches, bracelets, cufflinks and pens valued at between $5,000 and $9,000.
Next in line was Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose presents of watches, silk ties, a crystal table and candlesticks were worth just under $33,000; or less than 10 percent of the Saudi haul.
Chinese President Hu Jintao gave Obama a “framed and matted fine silk embroidery depicting a portrait study of the First Family,” valued at $20,000, the register said.
Ghana’s first lady, Ernestina Naadu Mills, gifted Michelle Obama a Backes and Strauss watch, crafted in “18 carat gold with diamonds and leather.”
The Queen of England favoured more modest presents for the first family, opting for framed portraits of herself and her husband, worth a mere $775.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered the US leader $521 in gifts, including the least expensive item listed by the Federal Register: a $75 bottle of olive oil.
All the presents are handed over to the National Archives as US law bars any government official from receiving a present from a foreign government.
Obama and others accepted the gifts because "non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and US government," the register said.
I don't mind King Abdullah giving that much in gifts to obama, just wondering what obama did for us?
Forgot to mention that maybe Palestinian leader offered the most inexpensive but healthiest gift, as US policy have brought the palestinian people to misery.
$300 000 is peanuts compared to the Iraqi rulers. They give it away in a restaurant as a tip !!!
That's how it works in personal relations , gifts are made so that recipients can remember the donnars and remember the visit and what they discussed . Palestenians has a lot of money in their bank accounts but it doesn't make sense to ask for donnations and give an expensive gift :-) so Abbas was very smart :-)
The funny part is that Obama and his family don't own these gifts and gave them to the government , I bet Bush would have sold them before he reaches home :-)
What is the point of the gift then? Don`t the Saudis know that as per US laws the President and his family can not keep the gifts. Why not just give him a box of fine dates. This way the president will be forced to eat them and not let them rot in the archives room.
Now, the US government should auction all the gifts and donate the money to help the poor children.
That would be helpful.
Some receive "gifts" in closed envelopes, others publicly. I wonder why?
Big people, big talk. Extravagant act.
I think a proper protocol should be established, whereby the socialist Gov't leader should respond to the gift with " Thankyou, my Gov't will provide a receipt for it" And the Gov't should establish a Museum of such gifts received during the visits by their heads from each country in a chronological order with dates and year etc with photographs and open it to public for viewing.
This way the giver of gift will derive some pleasure out of giving
the gift and even his descendants can visit the Museum and derive pleasure from it.
A gift is a statement of love and friendship and it will be interesting to know how various countries will express itself.
You mean since they offered to be a counterbalance to the British influence in the region in the 40s/50s? That suited both governments (US, KSA obviously, not the British one) quite well.
And your Government was very keen on having US troops around in the 90s, when Saddam decided to take a picnic in Kuwait.
Ain't funny how expats are lambasted by not knowing the local history and then this post will probably not published?