Trump: 'Friend' of Qatar Airways removed from Dubai billboards

Trump: 'Friend' of Qatar Airways removed from Dubai billboards
Blog: Huge adverts featuring Republican presidential wannabe Donald Trump, described by Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker as 'a friend', have been removed from Dubai following his controversial anti-Muslim remarks.
4 min read
11 Dec, 2015
Trump's bombast has led to international outcry [Getty]

A massive billboard featuring would-be Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Dubai was taken down by Damac Properties on Thursday, Emirati website The National reported.

The removal came only two days after the Dubai-based property development company confirmed it would continue its partnership with Trump - despite his controversial calls for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States".

In addition, Damac removed a huge Trump sign that had been advertising the Dubai-based developer's Akoya development and the Trump International Golf Course, the hoarding of which has also been removed, according to The National.

"We cannot comment on the situation," said Raed Gerges, vice-president of communications for Damac.

"Obviously you can see what has happened, but I have no comment on it," he added. "We will replace the images but I cannot say what the images will be yet."

Infographic: Trump's business ventures and properties in the Middle East - click to enlarge [al-Araby al-Jadeed]

Damac's share price dropped 3.6 percent in the wake of Trump's outrageous anti-Muslim statements, and other Trump partners have decided to take action.

On Wednesday, the Dubai-based Landmark Group's retail brand Lifestyle pulled Trump Home-branded products off its shelves, despite their "exclusive partnership".

Donald is a 'friend'

But despite the severe backlash, online campaigns, boycotts, and protests against the candidate to be a candidate, one Middle Eastern partner did not hesitate to show albeit cautious support.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker told CNN's Richard Quest on Thursday that he was "friends" with Trump.

"I can say that the reaction, as a Muslim - I have taken offence [at] this, and especially when it is coming from a friend of mine," he said. "I didn't expect him to be so naive to make such statements."

The Qatari official added that he had warned the Republican billionaire that he may not be welcome in Muslim countries where he has investments due to his statements, which many people found xenophobic and offensive.

According to al-Baker, Trump was "trying to gain political mileage out of these statements".

I didn't expect him to be so naive to make such statements
- Akbar al-Baker

"I think what he is saying is not in the best interests of the relationship between him and the Muslim world."

Trump has repeatedly said at his campaign rallies that he had Muslim friends - and that they support his proposals.

"I have so many friends who are Muslim, they are thankful that I've been able to bring it up," he said in a telephone interview with the New York Times. "It is a subject they say everybody else is afraid to bring up."

Trump added that he envisioned barring Muslims from entering the US only as a "temporary measure".

"This can go rapidly, and I expect it should," he said. "We're really talking about a limited period of time."

Despite losing commercial ties with Muslim partners, Trump said he would be prepared to live with that.

"This is much more important than any single thing," he said. "This is far more important than anything I'm doing."

Read also: Trump's xenophobia is a symptom of America's toxic politics

Trump's comments came in the middle of his campaign to be selected as the Republican Party's candidate for the United States 2016 Presidential Election, with the race seeing increasing use of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric.

In a statement released on Monday by his campaign, Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the US until elected leaders can "figure out what is going on".

"Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life," said the presidential contender's statement.

On Friday, a petition to ban Trump from entering the United Kingdom under hate speech laws passed the half a million mark.

The petition is currently the most popular on the British government's site and will be considered for debate in the British parliament.