Trump’s divisive rhetoric could impact real estate projects

by 09 Dec 2015
One of Donald Trump’s Middle Eastern business partners is drawing a line between the presidential candidate and his company.

Damac Properties Dubai Co., which is building two Trump- branded golf courses outside of Dubai, distanced itself from the developer, who said Monday the U.S. should ban Muslims from entering the country in the wake of a mass shooting that officials say was an act of terrorism by a radicalized Muslim couple.

“We would like to stress that our agreement is with the Trump Organization as one of the premium golf course operators in the world ,” Damac said in a statement. “As such, we would not comment further on Mr. Trump’s personal or political agenda, nor comment on the internal American political debate scene.”

Trump’s comments will put pressure on executives in the Middle East to decide whether they can do business with the New York property mogul, who licenses his name for use in projects around the world. His website touts an office and residential development in Istanbul, and retailers in the United Arab Emirates sell Trump-branded home furnishings and furniture.

Some executives began speaking out against him even before this week’s controversy. Billionaire Khalaf Al Habtoor, who described Trump as “a breath of fresh air among usual suspects” in August, retracted his comments. “I was wrong about Donald Trump and I don’t mind admitting it,” the Dubai owner of hotels wrote in The National newspaper on Nov. 25.

104 Mansions

Trump faced condemnation from other Republicans for his remarks. Jeb Bush called him “unhinged,” and Ohio Governor John Kasich criticized his “outrageous divisiveness.”

The Republican candidate and his daughter Ivanka flew to Dubai last year and drove miles outside the city to a stretch of the desert that will be the site of Trump International Golf Club Dubai, which he declared will become one of the best golf courses in the world. Next to him stood the chairman of Damac, Hussain Sajwani, clad in a traditional Arab robe.

The 104 mansions around an 18-hole golf course marks Trump’s second attempt to enter Dubai’s property market. An earlier residential and hotel tower planned with Nakheel PJSC was canceled in 2011 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Damac also is working on a second course with Trump, this one to be designed by Tiger Woods.

‘Don’t Understand’ Trump

“I was here before and I’m here now and I’m liking it better now than ever before,” Trump told a room full of people in Dubai during his 2014 visit. “I think Dubai has an unbelievable, unbelievable upside. Maybe the best that I see, anywhere in the world.”

Public reaction to Trump’s comments in the Middle East and Asian nations with large Muslim populations was limited, with many newspapers restricting their coverage to short news stories.
Dar al-Ifta, Egypt’s official religious body, condemned what it called Trump’s “hate rhetoric.” Such a “hostile attitude towards Islam and Muslims will increase tension within American society of which Muslims represent around 8 million peaceful and loyal” citizens, the organization said in a statement on its website.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said by e-mail that he’s confident that “the values of pluralism are still upheld by Americans.”

Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, secretary-general of the United Malays National Organisation, the biggest political party in Malaysia where Muslims make up 60 percent of the population, expressed concern that Trump would use issues of faith to gain political mileage. “I don’t understand Donald Trump, what is he trying to do?” he said.

©2015 Bloomberg News
By Zainab Fattah


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