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Looking a gift horse in the mouth
October 23, 2016, 4:33 pm

The phrase 'Don't' look a gift horse in the mouth', meaning ‘do not count the value of a gift’, took on a whole new meaning with President Obama publishing the list of gifts he received last year and their individual values. The disclosures were part of the president's financial disclosure for 2015, which were made in line with the US Ethics in Government Act of 1978.

Unfortunately, almost all the gifts he received have to be turned over to the government, as Federal employees are not allowed to keep items they receive in their official capacity. They also have to report the value and description of any gift from a single source that exceeds $305.

In the disclosure list were gifts that the Obamas received from leaders in the Gulf Cooperation Council states, as they all exceeded the paltry $305 limit — and by a staggering large margin.

The sculpture of a horse covered in jewels, among the most expensive gifts presented to the US president last year, was made from gold-plated sterling silver, diamonds, tsavorite, yellow sapphires, rubies and obsidian mounted on a rotating, piano-black lacquer base. It was presented by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. Its value, along with a chronometer, a set of golf clubs and a golf bag, was estimated at nearly $523,000.

The emir of Qatar gave the Obamas two gold-plated bird clock mechanisms worth $110,000 each. In addition, Qatar's Emir gifted a silver bowl with the Qatari insignia in the center worth $6,500, as well as six porcelain plates with hand-painted designs of birds, butterflies, and flowers, applied with polished 24-carat gold worth nearly $7,000, which were presented to First Lady Michelle Obama.

His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah presented President Obama with a $42,000 silver-coated resin sculpture of camels and Bedouin on a green marble base. The First Lady also received from His Highness the Amir, a commemorative coin from the 5th anniversary of the Amir's reign, a pink robe with golden embroidery and a case of six small gold-plated silver coins issued by the Central Bank of Kuwait.

Also on the official 2015 gifts list was a $10,000 sterling silver sphere that opens to display a clock under a magnifying glass on a wooden pedestal from the Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

Other gifts presented to the US president last year included a $1,040 framed painting from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and a sterling silver coffee pot with beaded handle plus six small porcelain coffee cups from the Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers of Oman Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Said.


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