DUBAI // He’s brash, he’s bold and he was in town to unveil the latest golf course and luxury residential development to add to his global portfolio.
Such is the frenzy that accompanies US businessman Donald Trump, it was no surprise that his visit to Dubai was proceeded by a bow wave of television crews and photographers angling for a shot as he breezed into sales centre for The Trump International Golf Course, which his is building with Damac.
The developer and TV star had arrived from Scotland hours earlier on his private jet before attending Monday’s press conference with Hussain Sajwani, Damac’s chief executive. As the media thronged around a giant model of the estate, the 67-year-old, accompanied by his daughter, Ivanka, turned on the charm and the superlatives.
“This is going to be the best golf course in the region, if not the world,” said Mr Trump. “I think it could be a possible venue for various international competitions, including the Ryder Cup.”
The billionaire is hoping it will be second time lucky in the emirate after his previous attempt to get a foothold in the property market with the Trump International Hotel and Tower on The Palm Jumeirah floundered after the global financial crisis.
Dubai is on the path to “extraordinary” growth and is a completely different place after the credit crunch, said Mr Trump.
“We were fortunate that no work was started on the previous project, so nobody got hurt,” he said. “Dubai is a very different place now, and there are plenty of checks and balances in place to prevent that from happening again.
“But if you look at the levels of the market now, they are still well below what they were at the peak a few years ago so there is much more room for growth.”
The golf course at the Akoya by Damac master development will be spread over 42 million square feet and include 104 villas and mansions ranging in price from US$1 million to $10m, as well as more than 650 apartments.
“We have built the best golf courses around the world, and this one is no different,” said The Trumpster. “In Scotland, the media have described the tourism increase in Aberdeen as a ‘Trump boom’ and I think something similar will happen in Dubai.”
Ivanka also played a role in the interior design of the villas and apartments.
“This is an incredibly exciting development and we have really tried to bring that luxury style here with oversized bedrooms, sweeping views of the golf course and the finest fixtures and fittings,” she said.
After posing for pictures and interviews, Mr Trump and Ivanka were whisked on to the course in a buggy leaving the media pack eager for more.
In his element when on the course or in front of a camera, The Donald wasn’t about to disappoint when the two were put together.
Displaying the showmanship that has made him one of the world’s most recognisable businessmen and TV personalities, he hit the first ball off the tee with ease before turning to spend almost 20 minutes chatting with photographers, posing for more pictures and doing more interviews – his public couldn’t get enough.
His “you’re fired” phrase from The Apprentice TV show also got an airing for the cameras.
Construction on the course and homes is still continuing and could be complete in a year or so.
The centre piece will be the Trump Golf Clubhouse building, set to feature a luxury spa, restaurants, professional shop and a lobby lounge.
The private, gated Trump Estate will overlook the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 8th holes.
Although he would not provide details of the cost of developing the project, Mr Sajwani said Damac had not borrowed from banks.
“We do not have any debt,” he said. “All the land we have has been paid for and we have something like US$1.4 billion in reserve.”
Now that’s business even Donald would be proud of.