In Abu Dhabi, Christmas comes decked with gold

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - December 16, 2010

The $11 million symbol of the season is the latest extravagance at the Emirates Palace hotel, which boasts its own marina, heliport and a vending machine that pops out small gold bars.

The hotel's general manager, Hans Olbertz, is quoted in local newspapers on Thursday as saying the 43-foot (13-meter) tree has 131 ornaments that include gold and precious stones.

Christmas spirit is not rare in the officially Muslim United Arab Emirates with its huge foreign population and malls full of carolers and Santas.

But not everyone's jolly. Some Emirati officials worry about threats to Gulf culture from the Western wave.

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