WHY DEVELOPER WAS ‘WISE’ TO STICK WITH TRUMP
Chairman says Dubai golf development will be a hit
The boss of a Dubai developer has said his company made a “wise decision” to remain a partner with Donald Trump after the then presidential candidate caused a storm by pledging to ban Muslims from the United States.
Hussain Sajwani, Chairman of Damac Properties, admitted his firm was under huge “pressure” following the Republican’s comments, late last year, due to their agreement to build an 18-hole golf course at Akoya, but stuck by the now president-elect.
Trump’s comments were made after last December’s shooting in San Bernardino, California that left 14 dead and 22 injured.
Sajwani told CNN Money’s John Defterios: “We saw the pressure. We were in the middle of the pressure. We had a number of meetings with board and management and we took a decision that we are going to stick to our legal agreements.”
On reflection, Sajwani said it was a good move. Trump won the US presidential election against Hillary Clinton and will become president in January.
Sajwani added: “It was a wise decision. All our business partners respect us for that. We stick to our commitments, regardless of the political, geographical or any other issues.”
As 7DAYS reported after the result, several key business leaders in the UAE said they believe his comments on the campaign trail were “rhetoric” and unlikely to be followed through.
Since winning the election, Trump has backtracked on the ban.
He has suggested the US will pursue a policy similar to the one introduced after the 9/11 attacks, which required immigrants from high-risk countries to register in a tracking system.
And Sajwani said a Trump in the White House will be good for business.
He told CNN: “He had a strong brand – and no question in the last 12 months, his brand became stronger and more global. “I think it will have a positive impact on sales. “He’s in no way discriminative. He doesn’t discriminate against sex, religion or anything else.” Akoya is a Dhs22 billion development behind Dubai Sports City and close to Emirates Road. It sprawls over 42 million square feet, with a clubhouse, apartment buildings and villas selling for up to Dhs35 million. But in the days after Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims, his name disappeared from a wall at the entrance to Akoya. Damac refused to comment on the removal at the time, but Sajwani now says it was only unfortunate timing.
He told CNN: “No one will believe us. That week, we had to do maintenance on the stone work. We brought it down and brought it back in less than 48 hours.”
Sajwani said he expects Trump International Golf Club at Akoya to open in the first quarter of 2017. He said: “We would love for Mr Trump to come, but I understand being the president of
the United States, it will be difficult.”
‘We stick to commitments, regardless of the political, geographical or other issues.’ – Hussain Sajwani, Chairman, Damac Properties
BUSINESS: Hussain Sajwani with Donald and Ivanka Trump at the launch of the development
DRIVE: Trump tees off in Dubai in 2014