Saudi King showers USD 300,000 in diplomatic gifts to Obamas



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 Federal Register.

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.

PTI