WHY DE­VEL­OPER WAS ‘WISE’ TO STICK WITH TRUMP

Chair­man says Dubai golf devel­op­ment will be a hit

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - news@7days.ae

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

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