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article imageEmirates Palace Hotel regrets $11M Christmas tree

By Kim I. Hartman     Dec 20, 2010 in Travel
Abu Dhabi - The Emirates Palace Hotel's extravagant Christmas tree, decorated in jewelry, gold and gems, and recently unveiled in Abu Dhabi, will be remembered as the most expensive Christmas tree in history, as well as the seven-star hotel's greatest regret.
The 42-foot tall faux evergreen sparkles in the hotel's gold-leafed rotunda and is decorated with silver and gold bows, ball-shaped ornaments and small white lights. The tree alone is valued at $10,000 but it's what's dangling from the branches that makes this beauty so pricey.
It is the "most expensive Christmas tree ever", said Hans Olbertz, general manager of Emirates Palace Hotel , at its inauguration this week, according to ABC News.
It holds a total of 181 diamonds, pearls, emeralds, sapphires and other precious stones, said Khalifa Khouri, owner of Style Gallery .
Olbertz said, "he was confident the tree would not offend religious sensibilities in the United Arab Emirates, where the vast majority of the local population is Muslim," reports ABC.
After a few days of media attention, hotel management had second thoughts about their decision when questions arose about whether the opulent tree was innocent good cheer or unfortunate bad taste for the United Arab Emirates.
The general manager of the Emirates Palace Hotel issued a statement Sunday, through the state-run news agency WAM, addressing the issue of ownership of the expensive decorations and the decision to erect such an excessive holiday display.
The Emirates Palace Hotel has denied press reports claiming its ownership of the jewels decorating the Christmas tree which was erected in the lobby of the hotel in celebration of Christmas and the new year.
"The hotel is just a venue for exhibiting the tree," said Olbertz.
The jewels on the tree, which was erected as part of an annual tradition followed by most hotels in the UAE and the rest of the world, are the sole ownership of Style Gallery, who has paid all the costs of making and decorating the tree. The jewels will be recovered by their owner at the end of celebrations.
The hotel regrets their "attempt to overload the tradition followed by most hotels in the country with meanings and connotations that do not fall in line with the professional standards which the Emirates Palace Hotel keenly respects and complies with."
Arabian Business reports, the hotel management has also stated the tree was not a stunt meant for publicity, but rather an effort to boost the holiday mood for its guests while they are away from their home countries and family, which is within the framework of the United Arab Emirates policy, based on the' "values of openness and tolerance."
More about Christmas, Emirates palace hotel, Abu dhabi, United arab emirates, Holiday
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