ABU DHABI // The US$11.5m tree that adorned the reception of Emirates Palace hotel last Christmas has been officially recognised as the most expensive created.
Valued at more than Dh42 million, it was adorned with a Dh3.5m diamond necklace and other precious stones and gems loaned by the Style Gallery, a jeweller at the hotel.
The hotel received confirmation this week that its tree had set a Guinness World Record.
"This is another unique mark by the Emirates Palace and our responsibility to ensure the best international presence," said Hans Olbertz, the hotel's general manager.
When the tree was unveiled, some people accused the hotel of extravagance.
"Not everyone agreed with the gesture," admitted Hazim Harfoush, the hotel's assistant director of marketing, yesterday. "But if I go back to the feedback at the time, people didn't understand the idea behind it.
"They thought we spent money on the actual tree to simply show off.
"But they missed the fact that the jewels were only loaned to us.
"Our initiative was to promote Abu Dhabi as a safe and tolerant destination, and emphasise its international character. It's just one example of the tolerance to be found in this great country. We're definitately happy with what we achieved".
They might not do it again this December, though. "We've broken the record now and will have to think of a new challenge," said Mr Harfoush.
Hadwan Assaf, the general manager of Style Gallery, has other plans. "We might try to increase the value of jewels on display this year to even Dh50m," he said. "It's a way of projecting Abu Dhabi's soft power in a fun way, and showing the world that as Abu Dhabi's position rises, we can improve relations between Muslims and Christians."