Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich still holds the crown for the most expensive corporate gift.
The story goes that he gave his $90 million mega yacht Le Grand Bleu (pictured) to Eugene Shvidler, a fellow Russian oil businessman and friend.
For the most part, corporate gifts rarely reach these dizzy heights of extravagance. Typically, boardroom gift-giving extends to items like luxury watches, cigars and even cars.
There are reports that business leaders in the Middle East have received luxury chocolates, in particular the world’s most expensive truffle, which can be found in Dubai, retailing at Dhs 1,000 per piece.
Around the UAE National Day, luxury pen manufacturers even advertise a Dhs150,000 pen specifically as a corporate gift.
There is, however, a lot of etiquette around the type of gifts that can be given in the region. Chocolates, dates and flowers are often appropriate, but obviously alcohol is a serious no-no.
Samara Punjabi, franchise owner and buyer at luxury shoe firm Manolo Blahnik, said: “A pair of Manolos was recently given as a corporate gift to the delighted wives of a 12-man expat management team.
For women, a lovely pair of Manolos will always be the safest bet.”
She adds: “In a Muslim region, there are certain customs that must be observed in gift-giving.”
Art is increasingly given as a more considered present.
Dubai’s XVA Gallery has seen artwork given as a corporate gift. Meagan Horsman, director of the gallery, said: “Prints and photographs are especially desirable as they are less expensive than other mediums (generally speaking) and can be purchased in editions, making a large number of gifts more affordable.”
Luxury experts say that in general corporate gifting in the region is less concerned with the price of the gift than to whom it is given and the brand reputation.
Gifts for party or dinner hosts, for instance, may easily run into the $3000 range and higher, with lesser priced items connoting disrespect to the host. Crystal and silver items are appropriate in such circumstances.
The financial crisis put a stop to the overly ostentatious gifts bankers received in Western markets, but no such worries have really concerned corporate leaders in the GCC.
The Arab world has always been renowned for its hospitality, something that will guarantee a healthy future growth for corporate gifting.
Gifting in the boardroom says a lot about your business credentials, so it’s no surprise that eco-friendly presents are on the rise. It’s unlikely to clinch a deal, but it can seriously boost a company’s corporate social responsibility credentials.
Earlier this year, marketing firm BrandMoxie launched an environmentally-friendly range. The BrandSouq Eco Gifts catalogue contains products all made from renewable or recycled materials.
The e-catalogue features a collection of gifts sourced from materials such as chrome-free leather, tea wood, bamboo, recycled newspaper and renewable plastic. Gifts range from office supplies to travel goods to outdoor products.
Sana Bagersh, CEO of BrandMoxie and BrandSouq, said: “We want to show that products made from renewable and recycled materials can be smart and stylish, and maintain the high quality that companies are looking for when purchasing corporate gifts.”