Abu Dhabi erects $11m Christmas tree
Abu Dhabi is of course a Muslim country so this should squash claims by the ACLU and others that Christmas trees "offend" Muslims
CHRISTMAS came in extravagant fashion to the Muslim desert emirate of Abu Dhabi as a glitzy hotel unveiled a bejeweled Christmas tree valued at more than $11 million. It is the "most expensive Christmas tree ever", said Hans Olbertz, general manager of Emirates Palace hotel, at its inauguration.
The 13m faux evergreen, located in the gold leaf-bedecked rotunda of the hotel, is decorated with silver and gold bows, ball-shaped ornaments and small white lights.
But the necklaces, earrings and other jewelery draped around the tree's branches are what give it a record value. The tree holds a total of 181 diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones, said Khalifa Khouri, owner of Style Gallery, which provided the jewellery.
"The tree itself is about $US10,000 (AU$10,100)," Mr Olbertz said. "The jewellery has a value of over $US11 million - I think $US11.4, $US11.5."
"Probably, this will be another" Dubai entry into the Guinness book of world records, Mr Olbertz said, adding that Emirates Palace planned to contact the organisation about the tree which is to stay until the end of the year.
Asked if the tree might offend religious sensibilities in the United Arab Emirates, where the vast majority of the local population is Muslim, Mr Olbertz said he did not think it would. "It's a very liberal country," he said.
Like other hotels in the United Arab Emirates, it has had a Christmas tree up in previous years. But this year, "we said we have to do something different" and the hotel's marketing team hatched the plan, said Mr Olbertz.