An amber-colored glass sculpture of a falcon, an Iranian silk carpet, a set of 12 silver spoons and a silver platter engraved with the world’s major cities were among the dozens of gifts given by Qatar to the US President and other American government officials, according to the US State Department.
In all, Qatar gave official gifts worth nearly US$60,000 (QR218,000), mostly during 2013, according to official records kept by the State Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol detailing the generosity of foreign governments across the world.
By law, US government officials are not allowed to keep gifts given to them by foreign government representatives and must turn them over to the country’s National Archives or other official body.
The details of each item, plus any travel paid for by other international organizations, are officially recorded and publicly published.
A couple of the items on the 2013 list were in fact received in earlier years, including a 51″ × 77″ Iranian Qom yellow and brown silk carpet with a medallion pattern worth $6,380. That was given by Qatar’s Attorney General – Dr. Ali Bin Fetais Al Marri – to Marc Grossman, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2011.
The same year, Grossman also received a $430 Mont Blanc pen set from then-Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
These are included in the latest list as details of them were not available earlier, according to Patrick F. Kennedy, Undersecretary for Management at the US Department of State.
According to the list, official gifts given to US President Barack Obama in that year included a 26″ sculpture made from amber-colored glass that depicts a falcon perched on a branch looking over its shoulder, worth $10,408 from Mohamed Bin Abdulla Al Rumaihi, Qatar’s ambassador to the United States.
The former Emir gifted to First Lady Michelle Obama a set of 12 silver spoons, bearing “lion passant” and leopard head markings with flowers in polished wood presentation box, which are recorded to be worth $600.
Vice-President Joe Biden received a silver hanging clock worth $3,100 from then Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani.
The most expensive official gift was a $12,000 Rolex watch given to US under-secretary of defense for intelligence Michael Vickers by the State of Qatar.
The records show that Vickers also received a $8,545 Cartier watch from the state of Qatar on the same day – Feb. 10, 2013.
While two of the five most valuable gifts to the Obamas came from Qatar, both had an estimated value far less than the $71,468 jewelery set gifted from the Queen of Brunei to America’s First Lady.
Designer watches are a popular gift choice and feature in a number of the records, as does perfume, jewelry and bolts of cloth.
Many of the entries on the list come from members of the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Air Force, reflecting the longstanding relations between Qatar and the US concerning defense. Qatar also hosts thousands of US troops at the Al Udeid Air Base.
In December last year, during a Gulf tour by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Qatar and the US signed a 10-year Defense Cooperation Agreement which confirmed that the US would continue to operate and maintain troops at the base through to at least 2024.
As part of the tour, Hagel met the Emir Sheikh Tamim and signed the agreement with Qatar’s Minister of State for Defense Affairs, Maj. Gen. Hamad bin Ali Al-Attiyah.
Many of the gifts given to officials in the Defense and Air Force departments are recorded to have come from Al-Attiyah, or are listed more generally as from the State of Qatar.
Qatar’s Attorney General Al Marri is noted to have given a number of gifts to officials related to the Departments of Justice, Defense and State, including:
- A rug with a case worth $420, to US Attorney General Eric Holder;
- A $2,100 model ship to Stephen W. Preston, General Counsel of the Department of Defense; and
- A silver-coloured metal and plastic ship to David Pearce, Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, worth $420.
You can access a full version of the list here.
What would be interesting if FIFA had the same system, I’m sure it would be jaw droppingly disgusting.
A bit off-topic, don’t you think?
Not really, Qatar has been accused of excessive ‘gift’ giving to FIFA so it is good to see a country that makes it policy for its officials to declare extravagant gifts.
why is 60,000usd over one year a news worthy event?
I wholeheartedly agree. I don’t think this news merits an article on Doha News.
Giving gifts is standard procedure, how can it be “news”?
Do you work for FIFA?
how did FIFA come into this conversation?
Receiving expensive ‘gifts’ is part of fifa protocol if you want something from them…
So? This article has nothing to do with fifa, and asking him if he works for them? Seriously? There are plenty of fifa related articles on DN, more than enough to blast them there
I was being sarcastic, Osama is a good guy but thinks gifts in the region of $10,000 upwards is normal, hence do you work for FIFA…..
I realise in the Gulf that the exchange of gifts is a tradition and as the Gulf countries have got richer the gifts have become more extravagant. However in some parts of the world it can be seen as an inducement to government officials to favour one party over another, hence the need to declare such gifts.
No. Do you?
Was it their birthday? If not, gifts=bribes.
Not at all. Countries exchange gifts in any occasions.
Really? So what was the occasion to send a Rolex to someone?? lol
It truly is astonishing how you people act and truly “BELIEVE” that it is ok to act like that. Simply amazing.
You are now the laughing stock of humanity lol. Keep it up!
If you keep it up you’ll be the laughing stock of DN, a far greater achievement
There is nothing hard to believe about normal deeds. Countries exchange gifts in visits or simply as a goodwill gesture. Check the US state department disclosure of the gifts. Check the Federal Registry (state(dot)gov/documents/organization/234202.pdf) more than 60 pages on the gifts were giving to US by more than 100 international head of states and government personals. Americans will not except these gifts and hand it over to the state department to put a value on it and sell it to them, if it was bribes they would be in jail.
I wonder how by your poor logic the whole world will laugh on it self for a deed you consider ” a reason to get laughed at” !!!!! I’m getting tiered from educating you, kid.
This is a bog standard news article anywhere. The non-Qatari newspapers regularly report on what has been given and received in the name by their serving representatives. It isn’t big and exciting news, but it is clearly news.
“Standard procedure” varies- in many places what you see as a ‘gift’ is seen as corruption/bribery, which is why the ‘gifts’ are logged, publicized, and given to national museums and archives. Please accept that not everyone sees the world through your lens.
I accept the idea, but this is “Doha” news… In Doha, gifts are gifts…
My daughter wouldn’t visit anybody without bringing a gift, it’s considered rude.
Please accept that not everyone sees the world through your lens.
Yes, but the article was about Americans and their response to the gifts. In this context, it is their “standard procedure’ that is important, not that of the foreigners.
How about you prove the whole world wrong?
I can give you my address and zip code. You ship me a Rolex Grand Mariner as a “gift” .. Then, I will insure that the whole world knows that Qataris do give gifts genuinely and not necessarily as bribes. Say what?
LOL… That proves nothing.
P.S. What’s a “Rolex Grand Mariner”?
hahaha… I must say that you are the coolest Qatari person here! I like how you don’t get offensive when people joke with you. I am sure someone else would have called me names left and right ;p
I was just testing your Rolex Knowledge ;p… nahh, I messed up.. Was meant to be Submariner.
Lol your new here….. The system is easy how do I shed Qatar in a bad light….
I don’t think it’s really a knock Qatar story – really just a human interest one. Lots of people find this sort of stuff entertaining and sometimes news is entertainment…
I completely disagree. It is news anywhere, and since DN focuses on news with a Qatari angle it is perfectly appropriate. It might be a sign of a slow news day, but that is all.
Ridiculous ! I know. While a $600m could slip from the public records, let alone news media!
Perhaps what is newsworthy about it in Doha is that it is out in the open…
i dunno, but i feel like Doha News is going down.
I have a feeling that young Emir will be going down or even replaced by someone wiser and more capable to handle things ethically . Not everything can be solved with dumping more money into it Emir. With all respect to your highness though,
Dude, its normal, political leaders gifting their peers (may be not in north korea). I think you are …….
fill in the blanks.
rolex must be laughing out loud (again)
Howcome EVERYTHING Qatar does is just morally wrong. Looool….what is wrong with you people???????
I completely agree here. Did anyone even took note of the comparison with Brunei and comment on it? This forum seems to be simply a bashing bout with a pre-obsessed mind….people should get out of the frustration circle and look at some optimistic aspects as well.
The question is: do Qatari officials declare the gifts they receive from other governments?
And, apart from the personal taste on the type and the “value” of the gift, did they really believe that dignitaries from U.S. Would keep the gifts, specially the Rolexes and the Cartiers?
FIFA .. Kafala… Land cruiser
Racism.. Bribery… Slavery
I know have an image of Sepp Blatter in a Land Cruiser with a fist full of 500 QR notes and a NOC…..
A sum of $60K?! That is really nothing for a wealthy country. Nothing wrong with exchanging gifts. Other countries would spent more than that on diplomatic missions alone.
What I find to be a little sad is the fact that most of these gifts listed were products made outside the State of Qatar. While gift exchange is a normal practice between country representatives, would it not be more forward thinking to ensure all gifts from the Qatari government are items that have been made in the State itself? It would be an additional opportunity to showcase local talent!
That is an excellent point. I’d like to make the point that Doha News is silly for printing these frivolous articles to begin with. If they are going to do an article such as this then they need to report on the items that might make it news worthy but even this point is frivolous in the entire scope of things. In other words this article is dumb…
To everyone thinking that such gifts are kind of bribery, I must say, sorry, you are completely wrong. If you live long enough in Qatar , you will realize that not accepting a gift is not only embarrassing the donor, but can be very offending ( not only in Qatar, but in all Arabic countries I believe ). I can’t judge this from political point of view,however, if these gifts were exchanged as a type of protocol or as a nice gesture, then no harm, specially when they were listed and published. Here is the thing, visit a local or Arab in general, and they will flood you with food or drinks the moment you step in their house ( regardless over-sending or wasting food, that’s not what I’m referring too ). Other nationalities seem to be more practical, and simply offer you , rather than forcing you to eat or drink. so, in a social level, it’s a culture.
Of course they realise it is impolite to refuse such gifts, that is why they take them then hand them over to the government regulator when they get back home. Keeping such gifts would be a huge no no in the US and one culture does not trump another.
Other diplomatic gift facts from the TV Show ‘Quite Interesting’ – The reason why they give gifts is protocol.
Gordon Brown gave a box of chocolates to George W. Bush which was then destroyed by burning. Under Secret Service rules, any gifts of food or drink are destroyed upon receipt no matter who gives them. Amongst the things given to President Bush include a £150 box of Charbonnel et Walker chocolates from Gordon Brown, a £650 box of chocolates from the Prime Minister of Qatar, an assortment of nut pasties from the President of Iraq, and 3lbs of live shamrocks from former Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
Gordon Brown once gave Barack Obama an ornamental pen holder made from the timbers of an anti-slaver ship called HMS Gannet. In return, Brown got 25 classic American DVDs. Some speculated that the DVDs may have been Region 1, in which case Brown would have to hack his DVD player to watch them.
An interesting article but nothing out of the ordinary since this practice of giving gifts is done by all countries. But 2 watches on 1 day ? Guess … Defense Under Secretary is a watch guy 😉