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Mon 11 May 2015 08:29 AM

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For the Trump family, sorry seems to be the hardest word

There are more questions than answers as to what really happened to the Trump Tower project in Dubai

For the Trump family, sorry seems to be the hardest word

One of the pleasures of living in Dubai is you come across many people who are spectacularly good at re-writing history. And nobody is better at this than the Trump family.

This week, my favourite “Trump” Ivanka was back in town. Now executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organisation, she was busy not only promoting the impressive line of new UAE-based Trump projects, but on the lookout for even more. Thanks to Daddy’s efforts, a deal with Damac will bring to Dubai the Trump PRVT Mansions. It’s super impressive stuff, comprising luxury mansions, villas, apartments, hotels and an outdoor retail strip.

This comes on top of the Trump International Golf Club also being built in Dubai. Exactly a year ago, Donald Trump told us that “Trump factor” would help push prices up by nearly 50 percent. “I think you’re going to have a huge Trump factor here. I think it’s going to have a tremendous positive effect,” he explained.

Ivanka was equally hyped up last week, telling our reporter: “We’re very excited. We’re very bullish on Dubai. I’m very excited about the UAE in general.”

I bet they are. In fact, they sound just as excited as they did back in 2008 when two huge gala events were held in Los Angeles and New York, to publicise the Trump International Hotel & Tower project. Remember that? This was meant to be a 60-storey mixed-use hotel and luxury building, which we were told would “become a landmark icon in Dubai’s skyline”.

On 23 June 2008, Trump sent out a press release claiming “pre-sales of some properties have sold for as much as $3,000 per square foot, with the average price per square foot selling for $2,450. Trump himself boasted: “I’m thrilled with the early sales of the residences and I plan to reserve a property in the Tower for myself.”

This entire project was quietly scrapped in 2011. We know Trump himself bought one apartment, but who bought the others? Exactly how many were sold in pre-sales? How many were sold in the public sale that began on 23 June 2008? And where did all the money go?

I don’t think it’s fair to blame Trump for the scrapping of this project — he was like many caught up in the global financial crash. But in between telling us how big and beautiful his Dubai plans are, maybe he could spare a couple of  words about what happened to the tower. Like “I’m sorry.”

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alex 4 years ago

Lets be fair...how many other brands did the same thing. Many lost when it crashed but no apologies from anyone. I agree with you that Trump over-sells in the Middle East but this is par for the course with all such brands...sell the dream and drink the cool-aid as they say.

Frankie Jo 4 years ago

Dear Anil,

I always enjoy your articles and usually its very clear what your opinion is. I'm from NY and cannot stand Donald Trump. Typically he lends his name and goes into a partnership and if it doesn't work out he walks away. He simply rents his name to projects and collects license fees.

Here's where I take exception to your article. His partner was Nakheel. No where in the article do you mention their name. How about Nakheel walking away from The Palm Jebel Ali or paying contractors 30 cents on the dollar. Perhaps he saw that his local Partner was hemorrhaging money. You do mention his new partner which is Damac. So why no mention of Nakheel. Ask Nakheel where the money went. I'm sure they collected the deposits

Mr Jones 4 years ago

It's well known that criticism of local companies is not allowed. Only foreigners can be lambasted. In the US those they would be liable to billion-dollar lawsuits (those that are not in jail already).