special gifts. hundreds of them.

President Obama waves goodbye from the steps of Air Force One as he departs Saudi Arabia on his way to Egypt, June, 2009

AP: ..Foreign leaders showered President Obama and his family with hundreds of thousands of dollars in art, jewelry, rare books and other presents during their first year in the White House.

Saudi Arabia’s king was the most generous gift-giver, according to documents released by the State Department on Tuesday. Saudi King Abdullah gave Obama, his wife and daughters nearly $190,000 in luxury baubles in 2009, including the single most valuable gift reported to have been given to U.S. officials that year: a ruby and diamond jewelry set, including earrings, a ring, a bracelet and necklace, for the first lady worth $132,000.

…By law, most gifts to U.S. officials must be turned over to the government and the jewelry has already been sent to the National Archives.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was a distant runner up to King Abdullah, with gifts for the first family worth a little under $33,000. The Italian haul included silk ties, a gold watch, a crystal table and candlesticks…….the Saudi monarch also presented Michelle Obama with a $14,200 pearl necklace. He gave the president a marble clock adorned with miniature gold palm trees and camels valued at $34,500. He sent first daughters Sasha and Malia Obama diamond earrings and necklaces worth more than $7,000.

Chinese President Hu Jintao gave Obama a $20,000 silk embroidery of the first family….French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife sent perfume and a $4,500 black Christian Dior handbag …Some leaders chose more modest gifts. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth presented Obama with framed portraits of herself and her husband, Prince Philip, worth $775….Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered the U.S. leader $521 in gifts, including the least expensive item listed by the State Department: a $75 bottle of olive oil.

Full article here

The only gift in that list that I’d have liked is the olive oil 😐

16 Responses to “special gifts. hundreds of them.”

  1. 1 Jessica
    January 18, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I’m already imagining the ways that Fox News is going to spin this into some “Obama really is a Muslim, look at what the Saudi King gave him” story. I almost wish AP hadn’t reported this because I know misinformed people are going to look at this as some kind of conspiracy even though this has been going on since the dawn of time. On the other hand, can we see some pics of the jewelry?

    • 2 Theo67
      January 18, 2011 at 6:01 pm

      I burst into laughter at your last sentence! I’m with you… let’s see the jewelry! 🙂

    • 3 Fred
      January 18, 2011 at 6:07 pm

      But an Arab being part owner of Faux Noise is “no big deal”.

    • January 18, 2011 at 6:21 pm

      Don’t worry about them Jessica, they’ll lie any way – and like you said, this happens to every president, eg

      From the Daily Mail (2009): “King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia gave more than $750,000 in gifts to Bush, Rice, lower officials and others connected with the White House…..”

      And Bush and the Saudis were very, very close:


  2. 6 CarolineAnna
    January 18, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    a marble clock adorned with miniature gold palm trees and camels….. Who would like that as a decoration. But I think the funniest gift the one from the Queen. I’ll start doing that, handing out pictures of me in frames as birthday gifts.

    • January 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      Oh CarolineAnna, they’re the two that cracked me up as well!!! Honestly, while I wouldn’t want to offend the kind thought, if anyone ever gave me a marble clock adorned with miniature gold palm trees and camels I’d give it back to them on their next birthday.

      As for the Queen and those pics of herself…..

      “I’ll start doing that, handing out pictures of me in frames as birthday gifts.”


  3. 8 VC - prezOfan2
    January 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Chipsticks, are you sure you don’t mean the only one you’d have found useful was the olive oil?

    • January 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      Welcome VC, thank you for visiting!

      You make a fair point, olive oil has, generally speaking, a few more uses than, say, a marble clock adorned with miniature gold palm trees and camels. But I really don’t have any use for jewelry either, I just look like a badly decorated Christmas tree when I wear it. 😐

      So, if there are any heads of state out there reading this blog – hello King Abdullah and Queen Lizzy – next time you visit me, bring me olive oil. Deal?

  4. 10 VC - prezOfan2
    January 18, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Don’t worry, I agree with you. While I wear the occasional earring, I hate having stuff around my neck and it doesn’t really matter how expensive it is. By the way,I first signed on last week and made a few comments without any ‘problems’, but I notice now that all my comments go to moderation first. Considering I plan to drop in daily to see what’s up, will this be the new normal?

    • January 18, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      Hi VC,

      WordPress remains a bit of a mystery to me, but I think the way it works is… if you have a WordPress account and have even one ‘approved’ comment on the blog then you will be recognized each time you log in and all your comments will go through automatically.

      But if you don’t have a WordPress account, then I think you’re effectively a ‘new’ visitor each time – so all your comments get held up for moderation. I think!

      Honestly VC, I wish I didn’t have to moderate at all and could just let everyone comment freely, but you can imagine the number of Tea Party types we have trying to spread their, um, good wishes.

      Hope that explains it! Thanks VC.

      • 12 Joy (Barbados)
        January 18, 2011 at 8:38 pm

        Hi Chipsticks,

        How does one get a WordPress account as all my comments still have to be moderated. And I have not told you lately how much I just enjoy coming here I am hooked it is like a drug (good drug). I check here several times each day. Thanks for keeping the faith and spreading it.

        • January 18, 2011 at 8:53 pm

          Hiya Joy, as ever, you’re a sweetheart! (I’m relieved the blog is a good drug and not a bad one!)

          Give me two minutes, I’m going to post about how to sign up to WordPress, VC was just asking me the same thing.

  5. 14 VC - prezOfan2
    January 18, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Oh, I do understand the need for moderation, and TOTALLY APPRECIATE the terrific job you are doing maintaining the tone of your blog. I’ve had my stomach turned often enough in the past while on an okay site and one of the whackos break through, especially when you least expect it.

    Does anyone here know how I can get a wordpress account and can state it in REAL simple steps? Being computer challenged, I don’t pick things up quickly. (Example, I’ve tried three times to get an avatar following someone’s simplified instructions, but to no avail.) You can’t imagine how long it took me to figure out how to comment on my chosen handful of blogs, and in two years of sporadic attempts I still have been unable to comment on two ‘political’ blogs I frequent.

  6. 16 Sue in Minnesota
    January 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I am embarrassed to admit this, despite placing a high value on generosity, as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown considerably more practical…….when I read this earlier today I was thinking too bad they couldn’t auction off the gifts and put the money to work, helping to fund a project, an educational or communtiy program, anything for the greater good. They could have a Whitehouse Garage Sale….lol, but of course that would cause great offense.
    Chipsticks I laughed out loud at the thought of the badly decorated christmas tree….I too, am in the less is more camp. I do love bracelets, and love that our Obama girls are usually rockin a few.

Comments are currently closed.







Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.



RSS Obama White House.gov

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS WH Tumblr

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Steve Benen

  • Biden has once again defied expectations from haters and his own party: Joe
  • NASA administrator: The future of space is collaborative
  • Washington making decisions that could prolong Ukraine war, says writer
  • Alex Newell discusses the cathartic performances in 'Shucked'
  • 'We have a major crisis': Mayor calls for federal funding for mental health
  • 'Why not you?': Bestselling author offers her advice to dreamers
  • Doris Kearns Goodwin: I think this is a moment to celebrate in Washington
  • 'A blowout number': U.S. employers added 339,000 jobs in May
  • Marc Morial feels like he's 'just starting' after 20 years leading National Urban League
  • 'Winner': DeSantis responds to questions about pronouncing his last name



Blog Stats

  • 43,365,125 hits
January 2011

%d bloggers like this: