When will the presidential hopeful’s verbal slurs end?
By Leila Hatoum
“He has a retarded mentality and will not win the presidency. What he said about Muslims is enough to make him fail,” Dhahi Al Khalfan, Dubai’s deputy chairman of Police and General Security said of U.S. presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
“The international community shouldn’t be giving him [Trump] any attention. In his mind, this man lives in a very different and bygone era, than the rest of us,” Khalfan told Newsweek Middle East in a telephone interview.
Trump recently shocked, not only his fellow Americans, but also the world, with his string of bizarre statements, which many categorize as racial slurs and hate speech.
Some of Trump’s verbal bombs included suggesting the U.S. close its borders to immigrants, turn back Muslims visiting the country and more recently—the cherry on top— a call for Muslims in the U.S. to hold identification cards indicating their religion and registering at a government database.
At home, it seems that the Republican presidential candidate has started to lose his luster, as recent polls showed fellow Republican candidate Ted Cruz gaining momentum over the business tycoon. Across the Atlantic, Britons launched a petition demanding that Trump be blocked from entering the U.K.
So far, the petition has gathered over 556,000 signatures according to U.K. Parliament’s online petitions page. The House of Commons, which is required to discuss all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures, will be debating this issue by December 18.
The British government, which has to respond to petitions gathering over 10,000 signatures, is set to discuss it by December 19.
Meanwhile in the Arab world, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal took to his personal Twitter account to lash out at Trump, calling him a “disgrace not only to the GOP but to all America.”
Talal, who is the chairman of Kingdom Holding, also asked the U.S. real estate mogul to “withdraw from the U.S. presidential [race],” saying he will never win.
Trump, who never fails to put on a show, replied with a tweet: “Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money,” he said. “Can’t do it when I get elected.”
Ironic given that Trump’s own father left behind an estimated wealth of over $250 million when he died in 1999.
It wasn’t just high profile leaders weighing in on Trump’s comments. Dubai’s real estate developer Nakheel said it had no ties with Trump.
“Nakheel has no standing contractual agreement with Trump, whatsoever. He does not have any projects in the pipeline with us,” Nakheel’s Chairman Ali Rashid Lootah told Newsweek Middle East.
Trump’s multi-billion project Trump International Hotel & Tower, which was announced in 2005, was set to open in Dubai’s iconic manmade Palm Jumeirah Island but got suspended in 2009 during the international subprime and financial crisis.
Nakheel’s chairman said it was, in fact, Nakheel that cancelled the project.
“His Trump tower project was dormant for the longest time and got cancelled by us,” Lootah said.
Nakheel opened Al Ittihad (Union) park in November 2012, on the very same plot that was proposed for the Trump project.
Though Trump insists he maintains a good relationship with Nakheel, sources within the real estate-developer that also stands behind the manmade World Islands project, told Newsweek Middle East that the presidential hopeful had visited Dubai twice begging Nakheel to endorse investments. “The company did not approve his request,” one of the sources said.
Arab Gulf leaders also condemned the Republican real estate mogul’s comments without naming him. The leaders issued a collective statement on December 10 expressing their “deep concern at the increase of hostile, racist and inhumane rhetoric against refugees in general and Muslims in particular.”
Interestingly enough, the overly tanned Trump is himself the son of immigrants and his wives, former and current, were immigrants.
Khalfan is not the only prominent Arab and Muslim to respond to Trump’s hurtful speech.
The prominent Arab blogger and political analyst, Sultan S. Al Qassemi, described Trump as a “dangerous clown” with “no end to his craziness.”
According to Al Qassemi, Trump is surely in breach of “U.S. laws,” in his attempts to establish a second-tier citizenship.
“In one year’s time Trump won’t even be on our minds, but we have to work harder just to undo the damage that has been done and possibly will continue to do so in 2016,” he said.
Just this past week, one of the Middle East’s conglomerates, Landmark Group announced its affiliate Lifestyle was severing its ties with Trump, out of “respect” to the sentiments of its customers. It is worth noting that the head of Landmark is not a Muslim.
“In light of the recent statements made by the presidential candidate in the U.S. media, we have suspended sale of all products from the Trump Home décor range,” Sachin Mundhwa, CEO, of Lifestyle told Newsweek Middle East in an emailed statement.
However, not everyone has severed their ties to Trump. The Middle East’s largest private developer, Damac, has a contract with the American tycoon, who personally launched his self-named golf course, last year at the focal point of Damac’s Akoya, a master development in eastern Dubai.
The golf course and luxury villas are expected to be Trump’s first completed project in the emirate.
Newsweek Middle East tried to contact Damac’s officials multiple times but received no reply at the time of going to press. However, Niall McLaughlin, Damac Properties’ vice president told BuzzFeed News that the company would not comment on Trump’s “personal or political agenda.”
CEO Qatar Airways, Akbar Baker, seems to support Trump despite his controversial comments.
“Look, Donald is my friend,” he told The New York Times. “I think it is an exercise only to gain political mileage, nothing more. This is the opportune time to excite more extremist people so that they could give him their votes,” he was quoted as saying.
“There are thousands of people in the Arab and Islamic world who are just like Trump and who keep saying their [slurs] under religious, political and social umbrellas,” Hussein Shobokshi, a leading Saudi political analysts said of the U.S. presidential candidate, in a telephone interview with Newsweek Middle East.
Trump, according to Shobokshi, “is more audacious in his frank opinion than most of those who have sugarcoated theirs. U.S. President George W. Bush and French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen have said similar remarks with a double meaning and got away with that.”
However “despite all of what he said, Trump still enjoys a large popular support in the U.S,” said Shobokshi.
“Trump is different in the sense that he is appealing to the white man who feels that minorities and colored people in the U.S. have dragged the power from him,” he added.