UAE businessman Khalaf al-Habtoor said in an interview this week that Gulf Arabs would withdraw investments from the United States if Donald Trump were to be elected president, just five months after the chairman of the Al-Habtoor Group had initially endorsed the candidate.
The United States "will lose their businesses, people will cancel any plans of investment there, I am sure of that," Habtoor told Reuters . "Because if you don't want me in your country, how can I invest and put my money there. Therefore people will divest, and this will result in unemployment in the United States."
The UAE-based Al-Habtoor Group announced 2 billion dirhams ($544 million) of planned overseas investments in December, with a focus on the U.S. and Europe. It currently owns a Hilton-branded hotel in Illinois.
The chairman had originally endorsed Trump in August, in a letter published in The National .
It is true that he does not fit the presidential mould, due to his propensity to shoot from the hip and his colourful background, but I would argue that that is a good thing.
But as the campaign progressed, and The Donald continued to "shoot from the hip," Habtoor changed his tune significantly. After Trump called for a complete ban on Muslims entering the United States, Habtoor withdrew his endorsement, telling NBC News :
"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."
Trump, who has established business ties with a number of Gulf Arab companies over the years, has seen his welcome evaporate in the region over the last several months. Saudi Arabia's Alwaleed bin Talal got into a public Twitter argument with the presidential candidate last month, and Dubai's DAMAC has struggled to handle the controversy over its business ties with the tycoon.