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Wednesday 27 September 2023 Dublin: 15°C
# stop talking
Is Donald Trump ruining his businesses in the Middle East?
He has quite a few of them, and it looks like his anti-Muslim rhetoric isn’t doing them any favours.

Donald Trump comments on Muslims PA Wire / PA Images PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE Donald Trump isn’t exactly a stranger to saying and doing outlandish things, particularly when it comes to Islam.

But when on Monday he called for ”a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on”, lots of people started to think he had finally gone too far.

His comments about barring Muslims from entering the US sparked outrage across the world. White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that Trump had effectively disqualified himself from the presidential race, while BuzzFeed told its staff that calling Trump a “mendacious racist” was “totally fair”.

petition has also since been started in the UK to bar Trump from entering the country. It has more than 200,000 signatures at the time of writing.

Along with sparking outrage in the West, Trump’s comments about Muslims have, understandably, not been well received in the Middle East and other regions with large Muslim populations. This could turn out to be a big problem for Trump, who, despite wanting to stop Muslims from coming to the US, seems happy to make money in predominantly Muslim countries and has business interests across the world.

According to a report in the Financial Times, Trump’s interests in the Middle East include:

  • Earning £660,000 to £3.3 million ($1 million to $5 million) by licensing the Trump Towers brand to a major conglomerate in Istanbul.
  • He also earned roughly £1.7 million ($2.5 million) from a similar agreement with oligarch Anar Mamma in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku, where a Trump Hotel and Tower has been built.
  • The FT also reports that the Trump Organisation is in the process of creating two golf resorts and property developments in Dubai.
  • Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who has a senior role in the Trump Organisation, recently said the firm was exploring “multiple opportunities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi Arabia: the four areas where we are seeing the most interest”.
  • Trump Home products are also sold in many department stores across the region, including in the Lifestyle chain, one of the biggest home stores in the Middle East.

cnn Screenshot / CNN Screenshot / CNN / CNN

Business interests getting crushed

There’s already some evidence that Trump’s attitude toward the Islamic faith is starting to bite him in the Middle East. On Tuesday evening, Landmark Group, which owns the Lifestyle chain of stores, said it would stop selling Trump Home branded products in all of its 160 branches.

In a statement reported by both Quartz and the Independent, the CEO of the Dubai-based brand, Sachin Mundhwa said: “As one of the most popular home decor brands in the Middle East, Lifestyle values and respects the sentiments of all its customers. In light of the recent statements made by the presidential candidate in the US media, we have suspended sale of all products from the Trump Home décor range.”

While Lifestyle is the first company based in a Muslim country to formally distance itself from Trump, others have already suggested that essentially alienating the entire faith will cause big issues for the brash billionaire.

Dubai businessman Khalaf al-Habtoor said Trump’s comments were “unacceptable in my country, the UAE.”

Our system cannot accept an insult to our religion like this.

Habtoor, who was speaking with the Financial Times, said Trump’s brand was “a liability, not an asset”. He also added that anyone in the region associating with Trump would be making a “huge mistake”.

Trump’s comments on the campaign trail have already cost him business on several occasions. Most recently, America’s biggest Hispanic TV channel severed ties with him this summer after he made derogatory remarks about Mexican people, calling some of them “rapists”.

So far, no other major brands in the Middle East have joined the Lifestyle chain in ending a business relationship with Trump. Damac Properties, which is partnering with the Trump Organisation on its golf and property developments in Dubai, and whose CEO, Hussain Sajwani, is said to be a good friend of Trump’s, is standing by the organisation, calling it “one of the premium golf course operators in the world”.

The company would not, however, talk about Trump’s political views, saying: “As such we would not comment further on Mr. Trump’s personal or political agenda, nor comment on the internal American political debate scene.”

- Will Martin

Read: The tallest building in the world will be an Iraqi skyscraper

Read: What if you sent an abusive tweet, and it ended up on a billboard outside your home?

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