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Tourists still drawn to Gold to Go machine

One month after it was switched on, the gold dispensing machine at the Emirates Palace hotel has not lost its glitter.

ABU DHABI // One month after it was switched on, the gold dispensing machine at the Emirates Palace hotel has not lost its glitter. Lone Olsen, 32, visiting her sister in the capital for a weeklong summer break, said she had already bought three one-gram pieces as souvenirs for friends and family back in Sweden. Fatima al Harthi, 27, meanwhile, was urged by her father to invest in a one-ounce gold bar. "I think it's both a cool thing to have as well as an investment," Ms al Harthi said.

Although the machine is no longer selling out of its gold pieces - as it did on Day One a month ago - the machine, which holds up to 300 gold pieces, must still be restocked frequently, said Thomas Geissler, the chief executive of Ex Oriente Lux AG and managing director of Gold to Go. "Between 50 and 100 pieces of gold are sold on a daily basis," he said. Depending on that day's market price of gold, the cheapest item from Gold to Go costs about Dh175, and the most expensive sells for about Dh5,500.

Mr Geissler said the most popular gold size among tourists is the one-gram piece, followed by the 10-gram and the one-ounce sizes. There are plans to place local gold coins in the machine in coming weeks, as well as stock it with larger bars that weigh 250 grams. The larger bars are "the best-selling products in the gold ATMs in Germany", Mr Geissler said. Within the next month 10 more Gold to Go machines will be shipped to the Emirates and installed in the capital and Dubai, Mr Geissler said, declining to reveal the exact locations.

"We have a lot of countries planning to have the Gold to Go machine; we are really doing good work at the moment, but we decided to use the UAE as the visible hotspot on the planet for gold ATMs," he said. Marcus Theobald, 31, on vacation in Dubai from Amsterdam, yesterday trekked to Abu Dhabi for one reason alone. "I wanted to see the Emirates Palace, of course, but more than that, I wanted to see this machine that will take my money and give me solid gold," he said.

A few hundred dirhams later, Mr Theobald had some South African Krugerrand-embossed gold coins in his pocket. He was impressed. "I think this is the perfect location for a machine such as this," he said. "An ATM that gives you gold instead of money must really feel at home in a place as grand as the Emirates Palace; it just wouldn't work anywhere." hkhalaf@thenational.ae

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