Anil Bhoyrul asks whether it will be second time lucky for Donald Trump in Dubai
Two words, endless meanings. Donald Trump. Hmmm. Difficult to say it without even choking on my coffee as I write this. Dorn….allll..terumm…oh no, I just can’t manage it.
Look, I can’t bring myself to say that name any more, so let’s just refer to him as “The Joker”. And The Joker is back in Dubai. What’s he doing? Last week, Damac announced the biggest project in its entire history.
Akoya by Damac is a 29 million sq ft master development that will include a spa, boutique hotels and international schools from kindergarten to secondary, as well as ‘globally-recognised’ retail brands, leisure and entertainment offerings and a sports complex.
And, of course, a golf course. Or — as it will now be known — the Trump International Golf Club, which will include a 30,000 sq ft state-of-the-art club house and luxurious Trump Spa & Wellness Centre.
Now, I know what you’re thinking…that I have made a terrible mistake. This grand project was actually announced in 2008. How could I be so lazy and post a five-year-old story again? Well maybe you are getting confused with the Trump International Hotel & Tower Dubai.
Remember that? Launched at star-studded gala events in Los Angeles and New York in 2008, The Joker told us this $2.9bn project was going to be a spectacular 62-storey building on the Palm Jumeirah. At one point the project’s penthouse became the most expensive property in Dubai with one buyer offering AED11,100 ($3,022) a sq ft, or almost AED110m.
“We really want to make this the tremendous success that we know it’s going to be. I love doing one [project], making it really great and then we do the next one,” The Joker said at the time.
The project was, of course, quietly canned, and the planned site is now a kiddies park (and a pretty good one I should add). What happened to any investor who believed The Joker would deliver this project, and paid AED11,100 a square foot for an apartment, I have no idea.
But now he’s back, to do a golf course. The Joker explained: “We are thrilled to be expanding our portfolio of award-winning courses into Dubai with Damac Properties. Dubai is an incredible city that truly understands the meaning of luxury.”
When next in town, I wonder if he will also explain his views on the Arab Spring. Back in April 2011, he told CNN that Arab nations should pay the US around $5bn as a thank you for getting rid of Gaddafi.
He said, and I quote, “The Arab League is so wealthy, they have so much money, they have cash pouring out of their ears, and they tell us, and we’re a debtor nation, they tell us to go in and take out Gaddafi, because we don’t like him. Why aren’t they paying us? Why aren’t they paying us? When they said that, you should have said; ‘We’ll go in, but we want $5bn.’And you know what, that’s peanuts for them, they’d give you a cheque in about two seconds.”
Really? Cash pouring out of their ears? $5bn is peanuts? Arabs will write you a cheque in two seconds? It is not unreasonable to suggest that Trump projects don’t always get delivered, and that he has a, let’s say, unusual view of the world.
I have no doubt this golf course will be as amazing as everyone claims it will. Probably the best in the region, and maybe one day stage some huge international tournaments. But as for The Joker, he needs to come clean. What exactly happened to his Trump International Tower? At exactly what point was it scrapped, and how much cash was put in by investors?
Anil Bhoyrul is the Editorial Director of Arabian Business.