Saudi King showers USD 300,000 in diplomatic gifts to Obamas
Dubai: In his first year as US President,
Barack Obama, his family and and staff were showered with
jewellery, ornaments and rare books worth more than USD
300,000 from Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah.
The King is by far the most generous foreign leader,
gifting Obama, his wife and daughters nearly USD 190,000 in
luxury gems, a news report here has said.
A ruby and diamond jewellery set, given by the king
to Michelle Obama, was worth USD 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, an Arabian
Business report said quoting documents released by the US
Obama's daughters, Sasha and Malia, each received
diamond earrings and necklaces worth more than USD 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 USD 5,000 and USD 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 USD 33,000; or
less than 10 per cent 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 USD 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 USD 775.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered the US
leader USD 521 in gifts, including the least expensive item
listed by the Federal Register: a USD 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.