Thursday 27 July 2017

Coming soon: Five Trump travel businesses in Muslim countries

Trump & travel

US real-estate magnate Donald Trump is seen playing golf on a billboard at the Trump International Golf Club Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on August 12, 2015. Photo: KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images
US real-estate magnate Donald Trump is seen playing golf on a billboard at the Trump International Golf Club Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on August 12, 2015. Photo: KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 09: A general view of the Trump Tower at dusk in June 2015. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC
Donald Trump arrives at Shannon in 2014

Lizzie Porter

Donald Trump's call for a ban on Muslims travelling to US comes as he plans to open five travel businesses in Muslim-majority countries.

Trump Hotel Collection this autumn announced it would open resorts in West Java and Bali in Indonesia, while two Dubai golf courses and a luxury hotel in Azerbaijan are due to open next year.

The company said it had plans for the West Java property in Indonesia “to revive the allure of the fabled destination” and the Bali hotel was “a project designed to reflect the authenticity of the local culture”.

Bali has a majority Hindu population, but West Java is 97 per cent Muslim.

The resorts' overall value is unknown but a Trump hotel in Vancouver, slated to open next year, will be in a building itself costing $360 million.

The flash Trump International Golf Club Dubai, part of a 42 million square foot leisure resort, will open alongside Trump World Golf Club Dubai, which the Trump Organization website boasts will have “a magnificent 18-hole Championship-standard course” designed by the “iconic golfing superstar Tiger Woods.”

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 09: A general view of the Trump Tower at dusk in June 2015. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC
BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 09: A general view of the Trump Tower at dusk in June 2015. Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for BEGOC

Mr Trump, whose net wealth Forbes puts at $4.5 billion, called for all Muslims to be banned from entering the United States following a terrorist attack, but has faced a worldwide backlash that risks threatening his business interests in the Middle East and countries where Islam is the major religion.

Despite his statement that claimed there is, "great hatred towards Americans by large segments of the Muslim population", the business magnate has shown little hesitation to expand into countries where the majority of the population follows Islam.

Mr Trump was last year photographed with Hussein Sajwani, chairman of DAMAC, the group building the Dubai golf resorts – but under his proposals for US travel restrictions on Muslims, Mr Sajwani would not be allowed into the country.

When the Trump World Golf Club Dubai was announced last year, Mr Trump said: “I have been hugely impressed with the quality and professionalism of everything in Dubai and it was a natural progression to bring another world-class course to the emirate.”

Ivanka Trump, Mr Trump’s daughter and head of “development and acquisitions” for his hotel business, told Hotelier Middle East earlier this year that Dubai was a “top priority city” for the group, and that they were, “looking at multiple opportunities in Abu Dhabi, in Qatar, in Saudi Arabia, so those are the four areas where we are seeing the most interest.”

Dubai strictly enforces some elements of Islamic law and visitors are expected to comply with conservative dress codes and alcohol restrictions.

Donald Trump arrives at Shannon in 2014
Donald Trump arrives at Shannon in 2014

Damac said it would not sever ties as a result of the presidential hopeful’s inflammatory statement about Muslims. Niall McLoughlin, senior vice president, told CNN Money that they would not comment on Mr Trump's “personal or political agenda” and that their ties were focused around “one of the premium golf course operators in the world.”

Pictures published on Ivanka Trump's personal website show her taking a hard-hat tour of the hotel in Baku last year which was described as a city “grounded in ancient tradition.” Azerbaijan is a 90 per cent Muslim country, and the republic has the second-highest population of Shi’a Muslims in the world, after Iran.

Her official Twitter account also boasted about the hotel in January this year - although the 2015 opening date has now been put back to 2016.

A spokesperson for the MacLeod House & Lodge, a Scottish resort operated by the Trump group, said it had not had any cancellations as a result of Mr Trump's remarks. "Guests come to play golf, dine and experience our great facilities and services", a spokesperson said.

However, others have called for a boycott of Trump’s travel companies. Lucy Lawless, the actress who played Xena Warrior Princess, said she would not stay in Trump hotels following the Republican candidate’s remarks. She tweeted: “I used to stay in Trump hotels. Can never again” and “Boycott #Trump Hotels #hitemwhereithurts$$$”

Khlalaf Al Habtoor, a self-made billionaire whose UAE-based conglomerate built Dubai's airport and owns luxury hotels in the Gulf region, had previously backed Mr Trump, but this week told NBC News that he had made an error doing so.

"When he was talking about Muslims, attacking them... I had to admit I made a mistake in my supporting Mr. Trump," he said. "He is creating a hatred between Muslims and the United States of America."

Extremists like ISIS "will thank Mr. Trump for his comments — this is very dangerous what he is doing to the United States," Al Habtoor added.

A spokesperson for Trump Hotel Collection said: "Trump Hotels are exceeding all targets across a variety of metrics, including market share, group bookings, and reservations volume. We continue to outperform our competitors in their respective markets."

Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Telegraph.co.uk

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