Donald Trump’s comments to ban Muslim’s from travelling to or entering the USA managed to receive widespread criticism and cause dismay among business leaders in the Middle East with whom he has long-standing relationships.
Historically, Trumps business ventures of over-the-top extravagance and luxury have been well suited to the new-money clientele of the emerging markets of the Gulf states. His in-your-face personality perfectly matches the aspirations and lifestyles of the oil-rich Gulf.Those same Gulf states that are predominantly, if not wholly, Muslim.
A few months back, Emirati business mogul Khalaf Al-Habtoor was singing Trump’s praises, proclaiming his support for the candidate’s Republican Party. Today however, he’s singing from a very different theme tune following Trump’s more and more outrageous comments about Islam.
When speaking to the Associated Press, Al-Habtoor said: “If he comes to my office, I will not let him in. I reject him. Maybe we can meet somewhere where I can debate with him in a very civilized way, not in the way he approaches people.”
Another business, the Landmark Group, has said it will pull all the Trump home décor products available in its 180 stores across the Middle East, saying they value and respect the sentiment of their customers above all.
For many years, Donald Trump has looked to the Middle East for investment to develop the Trump brand, in particular the Gulf, Dubai especially, lending his name to high profile golf courses and real estate developments aimed at expanding his hotels.
However, since his recent comments during his presidential campaign has seen an increasing wariness in the Arab world. But what does the Donald think of it all?
Well, speaking to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, Trump said: “If I lose some businesses overseas, it doesn’t have any impact on me whatsoever. What I’m doing right now … is far more important than any single business that I own.”
In 2008, a star-studded gala saw the launch of the proposed Trump International Hotel and Tower Dubai. The 62 floor skyscraper designed to tower far above the Palm. However, his bubble had already popped before the project got off the ground, and it was scrapped in 2011, with the developer now saying it no longer has any businesses associations with the Trump organisations.
Newspapers in the region have criticised Trump in the last couple of weeks, with one paper going so far as to say: His “extremism is no different than that of Daesh.”
So while Donald says he doesn’t care about losing Middle Eastern business, only time will tell whether he really means it when the fallout starts to hurt him where it matters most; his wallet.