Inside the Middle East
December 16, 2010
Posted: 856 GMT

Worth $11 million, standing 13 meters high and draped with jewellery, silver and gold colored balls and white lights, the tree at Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi is the world’s most expensive Christmas tree ever – or so the hotel hopes.

The tree is fake, but the jewels are not. There are 181 pieces of jewellery including diamonds, emeralds, rubies and pearls, according to Khalifa Khouri the owner of Style Gallery, which dressed the tree. There is a mix of rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets. The most expensive item on the Christmas tree is a diamond set worth 3.5 million Dirhams, nearly $1 million.

The hotel will soon make a bid for an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records, says Hans Olbertz, General Manager of Emirates Palace.

The Christmas tree has been at the hotel since its opening. It has been decorated differently every year to try to give visitors the Christmas feeling when they are away from home. This year the hotel decided to elevate the decorations, according to Mr. Olbertz – an understatement. “We wanted to have another record to coincide with the luxury of the palace.”

It is not what is under this tree that counts, but what is on it. The items are insured for 100 percent of their value and security monitors the tree 24 hours a day. Emirates Palace already has a gold ATM and holds a Guinness record for the most expensive alcoholic shot, a cognac which would set a visitor back a couple of grand, according to Mr. Olbertz.

Mr. Khouri, who celebrates his own birthday on December 25, said “with this tree we are saying Merry Christmas to everyone.”

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Filed under: Abu Dhabi •UAE

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rmsbl4   December 16th, 2010 10:57 am ET

WOW a Merry Christmas coming out of Abu Dhabi but in places in the US/ Canada you can't use Merry Christmas because it is not politicaly correct.

Enidoy   December 16th, 2010 11:10 am ET

Help the poors with that money.

AAJ   December 16th, 2010 11:13 am ET

Its a shame to see such a waste of money.

Samar   December 16th, 2010 11:22 am ET

This is ridiculous....i lived in the west 9 years, i've never seen nunMuslims celebrating Muslims holidays, why the heck are these ppl celebrating christmas!!
Money spent on this tree is much needed in other areas in the Middle East...
shame !

umhauer   December 16th, 2010 11:41 am ET

jewellery won't be wasted after Christmas, so there is no waste, juste a good advertising for Abu Dhabi. But it is clear that each time you put gaz in your car, you give them plenty of money, so much they don't even know what to do with it . But anyway I'd rather to see them spending this money for jewellery than to finance terrorism.

ebi   December 16th, 2010 11:59 am ET

Its a shame that muslims are spending money to show of their wealth

MayD   December 16th, 2010 12:15 pm ET

Well said. It's a shame!

Anthony Filipe Lobo   December 16th, 2010 12:23 pm ET

@rmsbl4 US/Canada gone seriously gone nuts...Christmas is Christmas its always going to be Christmas...

Johnny   December 16th, 2010 12:31 pm ET

Yeah, what a shame. So many poor people in the Middle East and they spend all that money in futile stuff.
$11 Million! How many families could they support with that?

gerd.vilardi   December 16th, 2010 12:45 pm ET

Wath A World that we are now in, the tree with all the Gold etc. in Abu Dhabi,
and we dare to say its not Politicaly correct to say Mary Xmas, so we say Happpy Holiday and that in the USA. I say we are all a bunch of schamefull people, we forget all the tradition and the wy we celebrate Xmas, but it was Politicaly incorect for him to give his Life for all Humans
in this world, no mather the religion or pink or black, more and more I think there is something wrong with all of us and not to say the some of the Thinkheads in the USA. Have you all a Mary Xmas and a Better New 2011

Mary   December 16th, 2010 12:47 pm ET


How do you suggest the non-muslims celebrate muslims holidays? by slaughtering sheep in the streets may be!!

All what you have is killing and hatred, what is wrong with celebrating Christmas, it is all beauty and love, may be you don't understand those things.

BBear   December 16th, 2010 12:49 pm ET

I would have to agree with AAJ and Samar on this one! That money would be better spent relieving some suffering rather than making nice to rich people who could care less about Christmas and the suffering of others.

Alfie   December 16th, 2010 12:59 pm ET

This guys really got the Christmas spirit

Steelers Black&Yellow   December 16th, 2010 1:14 pm ET

Abu Dhabi is well known of its huge money donations and contributions for poor people/regions and needy causes. (research it)
the gold and silver are to be sold again when the price of gold is up more. so this may end up making money for the palace. The only money spent in this deal is the one paid for the insurance.
I just do not understand the urge for the Guinness Book of World Records. the palace PR people should know that the showing-off attitude is never well perceived at financially troubled times.
Christians who visit the Middle East know that their holidays are well celebrated by all Muslims simply because Muslims do believe in Jesus as well as Mohammad.

lok chan   December 16th, 2010 1:19 pm ET

Ridiculous – this is an obscene show of money when the world is starving... bad example of CRS – they should be ashamed of themselves!

love this   December 16th, 2010 1:22 pm ET

it's a muslim country, yes ... but not everyone there is muslim ...get real.

Igvanbasten   December 16th, 2010 1:39 pm ET

Outrageous.....people are starving all over the world and they have the audacity to use christmas as a stage to show off their wealth. there is no point of this display of wealth in muslim or nonmuslim countries. too bad that will all their money, they can't buy themselves some brains!

Rob   December 16th, 2010 2:38 pm ET

To most Christians, Christmas is universally recognized and celebrated as the Birthdate of Jesus Christ. However, Christmas Day is celebrated culturally all over the world. The Spirit of Christmas is and has always been about giving. I can see this display was about the Hotel's desire to give back something to its patrons. Maybe a touch of home. There's nothing wrong with that.

On the other hand, it could also be another obnoxious attempt at flaunting their obscene wealth, Mocking the West with bizarre oneupsmanship and ultimately for their own benefit (Guiness Book of World Records).

I agree that their wealth would be better displayed if it were used to help those less fortunate. That is the legacy they should be striving for.

irsyad   December 16th, 2010 2:44 pm ET

This is private money... who's to tell them what to do with it? This is a luxury hotel not a charity group. It would be nice if they spent that $11 million for the poor but, they aren't obliged to do such a thing... unless they spill millions of barrels of oil into the sea :)

John   December 16th, 2010 3:00 pm ET

To know the real Islam thoughts you should see how are the people of the arab peninsula live

They are all hypocritics, they are double faced, praying and fasting in the morning and dancing and commiting adultery at night

Zhivago   December 16th, 2010 3:10 pm ET

Mr. Khalifa Khouri of Style Gallery and Mr. Hans Olbertz, General Manager of Emirates Palace Hotel, I commend your creativity and interest with the US$11million Christmas Tree 2010! You two have attempted to prove that capitalism (wealth) can be generated (made) and displayed (shown) not only in the western countries but there, right there, in Abu Dhabi ... a lot of wealth as well!

It further suggests the deep historical relationship of capitalism with the culture, people and society of the countries of the Middle East!

Keep up the excellent works gentlemen and move capitalism onward throught the Middle East!!

Zhivago The African

leilabn   December 16th, 2010 3:15 pm ET

it's a shame, christmas is for poor people....... and for Christians, why the hotel in Abu Dhabi needs a christmas tree;

Matt   December 16th, 2010 3:17 pm ET

No money's been "spent" or "wasted" on this tree. You don't seriously think they're going to throw all the decorations (ie: jewelry) in the trash after the New Year, do you? It's probably on loan from the jewelers and goes back to them after xmas.

kevin   December 16th, 2010 3:27 pm ET

From his Last name the owner is christian, so I guess he can celebrate.

Bodge   December 16th, 2010 3:35 pm ET

No problem, let them do as they wish with their money, but...

you have to wonder if these people will ever get tired of their own bull****

Tuyennguyen   December 16th, 2010 3:45 pm ET

Money should have been used to help the poor people in that country

Glenn   December 16th, 2010 4:17 pm ET

This has to be greed at it's worst. Don't think for a second this is for christmas. This is for "show" and to "bring in" more money to the already filthy rich and wealthy. Shame on you. Humanity is lost. Some of us are now a new breed of cockroach who will let their fellow man rot in poverty rather than lend a hand. Just remember you can't take it with you and one day we will all have to answer for how we lived our lives to the big man upstairs.

andyjon   December 16th, 2010 4:33 pm ET

Look a little deeper, this is not wasted spend, these items are contributed by retailers and are for for sale, same as similar items in Bond Street, Regent Street & every mall throughout the uk! we live in a consumer societry, right or wrong and if we accept in in our country we must accept it in others, its their right same as ours.Look at Bond Street. Regent Street and evey othe mall throughout the uk. each country wishes to display their own wealth, visit Abu Dhabi perhaps and open your eyes.

BillyD1953   December 16th, 2010 4:35 pm ET

I think Clark Griswald still holds the actual world's record, but this tree is a noble effort and captures the true spirit of Christmas–extravagant wealth.

ed   December 16th, 2010 4:55 pm ET

Don't worry, guys. The whole world is going to pay for that tree, plus hefty those smart Emirates people are going to raise the price of oil above $ 100 a barrell. And I bet that's going to happen pretty soon!

teepee   December 16th, 2010 6:05 pm ET

this is SO absurd. such a waste of money. they don't know how to put their money to good use. it's really such a shame.

Matt   December 16th, 2010 6:14 pm ET

It must be tough to pass judgement while drinking cafe grandes, sitting at laptops and planning christmas vacations in America. But you're all correct. Shame on them for spending all that money on that tree and celebrating our holiday. Maybe we should all give up on christmas, and holidays in general and help the poor. It may entail more than hypocrisy and article rhetoric, though.

ida   December 16th, 2010 6:22 pm ET


Farrukh   December 16th, 2010 6:23 pm ET

It is not waste of money and, for sure, not a shame. Abu Dhabi is very smart. It will draw more tourists from the West enriching them (Arabs) furthermore.

It also shows religious tolerance that is in much deficit right now. Western countries should learn from Abu Dhabi about religious tolerance by respecting Muslim minorities in their countries.

phil   December 16th, 2010 6:30 pm ET

Relax folks. They did not SPEND 11 million. The money is not gone. It just has 11 million dollars worth of jewelry on it. They could put the jewelry in a store window or hang it on a tree. The tree is fake so they could do it again next year with no additional cost.

And before you insult Arabs for showing off their wealth you should look at Las Vegas.

John wrote "they are double faced, praying and fasting in the morning and dancing and commiting adultery at night". And I suppose Christians never do this?

Please stop the hatred. Arabs are not that different from us. We all have our faults.

KrazyK   December 16th, 2010 7:07 pm ET

Oh, please. Every one of you preaching about how the money could be used to help the poor probably have multiple cars, multiple big screen TV's, and you probably indulge on whatever you want to on a regular basis.

Second, this has absolutely NOTHING to do with Islam. Leave Islam out of it....

it isn't 'muslims showing off their wealth'... it was a few wealthy people showing off their wealth.

R.S.   December 16th, 2010 7:20 pm ET

Of course, you commentators can do nothing but whine, complain, and be annoying.

I, on the other-hand, will actually contribute positively to this comment thread and say that that is one awesome tree :)

Somebody   December 16th, 2010 7:45 pm ET

What a shame, given the number of people starving all over the world.. I always believe that with so much wealth floating around, there is no reason why the would should have so much poverty. A pity the rich man can't see it. What a waste of money and time.

Sylvia   December 16th, 2010 7:50 pm ET

Couldn't they think to spend that money by giving money, gifts to the poor houses, isn't that valuable for doing that!! which is the real Christmas, if we know what is the meaning of Christmas. but unfortunately they spend on a tree in a LUXURY HOTEL !!!I

Vlad   December 16th, 2010 11:48 pm ET

Such a fake image of a country. There's really two sides. One is a rich to the point of vomit, and another is poor to the point of slavery. All is for show, this is much worse than America's problem with consuming.

Jasur   December 17th, 2010 6:51 am ET

Be Muslim, and be cool, i hope the next year there will be a tree for $125.000.000, good job guys,

Jasur   December 17th, 2010 6:55 am ET

Guys when you spend $10 for your food you'll never think that you could spend $5 and give other $5 to poor people, so dont be jealous, we are muslims, and Muslim are always rich!!!

elvira balzano   December 17th, 2010 2:19 pm ET

It's beautifulness but in this difficult economic moment it's ......

himagain   December 18th, 2010 11:08 am ET

A fantastic thing when in the USA and UK and Australia, such displays of Christianity are being banned – not by public acclaim but political maneuvering by shadowy organisations.

Tariq N   December 19th, 2010 3:51 pm ET

As a Muslim I find it disgraceful, offensive and embaressing for a Muslim country so wasteful of its GOD given resources as to spending it for pleasing Christian west.

This money used to buy the jewels could have been donated to a poor Muslim country.

Laanat-ul-Lazeena on these Arabs.

Tariq N   December 19th, 2010 3:54 pm ET

Allah please show us an alternative to oil... please, rid the world of nations that throw away your precious resource wastefully. Ameen

Coriolana   December 19th, 2010 4:01 pm ET

Dumb and dumberer in action. Why don't they pay their maids instead of creating an abortion that mocks another religion?

Muslim Christmas   December 19th, 2010 4:54 pm ET

Welcome to all our ex-Muslim friends that have converted to Chri$tianity.

Factoid   December 21st, 2010 8:20 pm ET

I dont think this would have gotten any attention if the topic said " 11 million given to charity by Abu Dhabi " , Because UAE has given Billions to charity but that never got any media attention... You people have nothing good to do, so this is like a past time for you all...

All of a sudden you people wake up and think this is shameful? how much has each one of you donated in his entire life? zero!!

Please go back back to sleep untill something else comes up on the news, I blame the unemployment rate in the US for all this drama going on about a tree!

MMM   December 21st, 2010 10:06 pm ET


You are so closed minded to see us like that, we do not kill for hatred and anger you stupid idiot. Before judging us know what we are and then say anything. Did we ever say that Christmas is wrong ?? no! but we do not want to celebrate it in our country since you do not give a sh!t about our holidays ^^ k ?..

gerd.vilardi   December 23rd, 2010 11:06 am ET

well as we see, the opinions are so diferent as sand on the beach.
Lets all have a beauthifull Xmas and a Wonderfull and happy new jear 2011 the rest will come anyway.

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Bona   August 17th, 2012 8:54 am ET

I think it's really easy to get skceud into those kind of situations, sometimes unaware, and its only when you've extricated yourself that you realise how spiritually dirty it made you feel. It's not easy, though, especially as for instance you might have to work with these people or they might be your relations. I am trying to work on setting boundaries, and truly believing I have the right to express these, but it can be difficult!

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