The US State Department in Wednesday, November 25, published its annual accounting of gifts from foreign notables to American government officials revealing that Saudi King Abdullah and top kingdom officials spent a fortune on gifts for President Barack Obama and the First Family — roughly $1.35 million on the list.
The list of gifts from the Saudi royal include a gold and silver men’s wristwatch with leather band valued at $18,400 received on January 14, 2014; a $67,000 white gold men’s wristwatch with leather band, received on April 15, 2014; and a 48-inch gold-plated brass replica of the Makkah Clock Tower on marble base, presented on March 28, 2014, and valued at $57,000.
In January 2014, the Saudi king, who died in 2015 also gave Michelle Obama a diamond and emerald jewellery set including necklace, earrings, ring and bracelet, valued at $560,000. On April 15, 2014, she received an identically described set also worth $570,000.
Malia and Sasha weren’t left off the Saudi king’s list. On January 14, 2014, they received diamond and emerald jewellery set including earrings, necklace, ring, brooch, and wristwatch. Diamond and ruby jewellery set including earrings, necklace, ring, brooch, and wristwatch valued at $80,000.
Later in 2014, the Saudi minister of the National Guard, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, gave the first family a lavish care package that included a 10-inch model palm tree made of silver and gold, set on a green marble base, a number of robes and two bottles of perfume named for the King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The State Department estimated its worth at $39,915.
These gifts aren’t bribes and if Obama wants to keep anything he gets from another world leader, he has to pay fair market value for it and take it with him when he leaves office. Otherwise, U.S. law stipulates that the president must turn over everything to the National Archives or other institutions for storage or display. According to Yahoo News, a quick look through this year’s list suggests he did not opt to hold on to any presents.
On March 28, 2014, the Saudi king had gifts for several senior Obama aides, who likewise cannot keep such things. The one woman in the group, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, received a “white gold wristwatch with link bracelet” estimated at $5,370. The men, all senior National Security Council aides, received gifts with the same description but each carrying a $8,170 price tag.