Once Again, The Saudi King Came Bearing Gifts. Really Gaudy, Expensive Gifts.
The Department of State today filed a report detailing gifts given to federal employees by foreign government sources in 2009. As usual, Saudi Arabia’s king topped the largesse list, lavishing presents on everyone from President Barack Obama to staffers at Blair House.
As seen above (click to enlarge), of the three largest gifts detailed in the 52-page report in the Federal Register (click here to download your own copy), the two priciest went to Michelle Obama. The First Lady was given a $132,000 “ruby and diamond jewelry” set from Saudi King Abdullah. She also received a $48,000 “Black Star of Ghana” watch from that country’s first lady (the watch, pictured below, is “crafted in 18 karat gold with diamonds and leather”).
The president’s most valuable gift, worth $34,500, came from King Abdullah. Based on the State Department’s description, it appears the item is some kind of gaudy mantel clock.
As noted on the report, the various gifts are accepted since “Non-acceptance would cause embarrassment to donor and U.S. Government.” Since government employees are prohibited from accepting such valuable trinkets, the items are shipped off to the National Archives for safekeeping.