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Monday, December 20, 2010

$11M Christmas Tree Sparks Controversy

Photo from The Guardian

An Abu Dhabi hotel’s attempt to enter the Guinness Book of World Records has turned into a public relations quagmire.

The 42-foot tree in the lobby of the Abu Dhabi Emirates Palace Hotel is decorated with $11 million of diamond, gem, pearl and gold jewelry. Janet Abrahams, executive director, Sales & Marketing for the Emirates Palace Hotel, told New Tang Dynasty television that the luxury hotel partnered with Star Gallery, a jeweler inside the hotel, to create the tree.

Despite being the capital of the United Arab Emirates, a wealthy Muslim nation, the Emirates Palace said the Christmas tree tradition falls within national policies of tolerance.

The elaborate decorations did not go over too well with the general public. The majority of the comments from its YouTube video presentation were negative. This type of reaction, questioning whether the tree’s opulence is in bad taste, has apparently spread to the point where the hotel has deflected the criticisms to the jeweler and has issued a statement saying it 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,” according to media reports.

The hotel also reportedly said the tree was not a stunt but a way to boost the holiday mood for its guests.

Below is another video about the situation with coverage from multiple sources by

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