Qatar officials spend lavishly on Obamas in 2015
Two gold-plated mechanical birds worth US$110,000 each, six porcelain plates with hand-painted designs in 24-carat gold and a wooden music box worth $17,720 were among the gifts given to the Obamas last year by Qatar’s ruling family.
The presents were detailed in a list published by the US State Department last week that outlined the generosity of foreign governments across the world in 2015.
By law, US government officials are not allowed to keep gifts given to them by foreign government representatives.
But according to the disclosure, they accept some offerings to “avoid embarrassment to the donor and the US government.”
These must be turned over to the country’s National Archives or other official body.
Qatar spent more than $303,224 on 39 gifts to US leaders last year, almost double the $170,000 of presents purchased in 2014.
The most expensive items – the set of gold-plated birds – were given to US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle by Qatar’s Emir in November.
That same month, the first lady also received an elaborate music box from Sheikha Moza during her first official visit to Qatar.
Michelle Obama was in town to speak at Qatar Foundation‘s World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) and promote her initiative Let Girls Learn.
Qatar officials also presented Gucci scarves, silk rugs, luxury watches and other items to US lawmakers.
As in the past, senior members of the US Armed Forces and Department of Defense received several gifts, reflecting the two countries’ deep security relationship.
According to AP, the country’s gifts were only second in cost only to Saudi Arabia.
Its king gave President Obama some $523,000 in items. They included a gem-encrusted horse sculpture, a chronometer, a set of golf clubs and a golf bag.
Meanwhile, the Emir of Kuwait gave Obama a $42,000 silver-coated resin sculpture of camels. And Bahrain’s Crown Prince sent a $10,000 sterling silver sphere that opens to display a clock under a magnifying glass.