Emirates rethinks bejewelled Christmas tree

An Abu Dhabi luxury hotel that boasted an $11 million
Christmas tree decorated with gold and gems admitted Sunday it may have taken
the holiday spirit a bit too far.

A statement from the Emirates Palace hotel said it
regretted “attempts to overload” the Christmas tree tradition by
adorning it with premium bling including gold, rubies, diamonds and other
precious stones from a hotel jeweler.

The statement was a rare bit of reflection on the Gulf’s
ethos of excess. The tree was unveiled last week with full fanfare in a hotel
that features its own gold bar vending machine and a one-week $1 million
package that includes private jet jaunts around the Middle East.

But the hotel management apparently had second thoughts
after questions arose about whether the opulent tree was innocent good cheer or
unfortunate bad taste.

The hotel regrets “attempts to overload the
tradition followed by most hotels in the country with meanings and connotations
that do not fall in line with the (hotel’s) professional standards,” said
a statement carried on the state-run news agency WAM.

The hotel even tried to distance itself from the 43-foot
(13-meter) faux fir in one of its rotundas, saying a hotel-based jeweler was
solely responsible for creating and decorating the tree.

“The hotel is just a venue for exhibiting the
tree,” the statement said.

The hotel also claimed the tree was not a stunt, but
rather an effort to boost the holiday mood for its guests based on the United
Arab Emirates’ “values of openness and tolerance.”

Although officially Muslim, the UAE features many signs
of Christmas for its huge foreign population. Lights, carolers and Santas are
fixtures in nearly every mall.

 

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