Translated and edited by: Noon Post
When former President Donald Trump briefly returned to his office in Trump Tower in New York last week, he was joined by his son Eric Trump and the chief executive of a Saudi real estate company to sign an agreement that would address new questions about the conflicts cause to arise of importance to his just launched presidential campaign.
The deal was struck with a Saudi real estate company that wants to build a Trump-branded hotel, villas and golf course as part of a $4 billion real estate project in Oman. The deal represents a continuation of a practice commonly used by the Trump family business until his election as president to sell the trademark rights to an outside project for a generous licensing fee.
But what makes this project unusual — and heightens questions about this new deal — is that by partnering with the Saudi company, Trump has also become part of a project backed by the government of Oman.
The agreement ties Trump, as a former president and White House hopeful, with a foreign government partner that has complex relations with the United States, including its role in the effort to end the war in Yemen and other key items about Washington’s foreign policy agenda.
Trump signed the agreement with the Saudi real estate company Dar Al-Arkan, which is leading the project in cooperation with the government of the Sultanate of Oman, which owns the land. This is the second agreement recently signed between Trump and his family that has direct financial relations with a Middle Eastern government.
The Trump group also hosted the Saudi government-backed LIV golf tournaments at family-owned golf clubs in New Jersey and Florida. The Saudi government’s $620 billion public investment fund funded LifeGolf, then paid for Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami and Trump National Badminster Golf Club in New Jersey to host two of their tournaments this year.
The Trump administration, including Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, enjoyed close ties to Saudi Arabia during Trump’s presidency, and Kushner also received financial support from the Saudi government in the form of a $2 billion investment in his newly created private equity firm, Affinity Partners.
Before his election as president, Trump and his family signed deals that licensed the Trump name in territories including Indonesia, Turkey, the Philippines, Dubai, India, Panama and Canada, and they own golf resorts in Scotland and Ireland. One of the Dubai skyscraper deals announced in 2005 involved Al Nakheel, a Dubai government real estate company, but that project was eventually abandoned.
Eight months before Trump entered the 2015 presidential race, the family business announced plans to license its name to a 33-story hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, in partnership with the son of a government minister, but that project ultimately also abandoned.
According to the New York Times’ review of transactions, the Trump group’s foreign transactions in other countries did not involve direct financial involvement by a foreign government or at least any public acknowledgment of direct foreign government funding or a significant land contribution.
During Trump’s presidency, the Trump International Hotel in Washington has been a frequent destination for foreign government officials, including delegations for planned meetings with Trump. The governments of Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China spent money at the hotel, according to documents his former accounting firm handed over to Congress. House investigators estimated the hotel received more than $3.75 million from foreign governments between 2017 and 2020.
The Trump Group confirmed that it paid all profits from these hotel stays to the Treasury Department through voluntary annual payments. But this new deal – in which it benefits from land or capital provided by foreign governments – only increases the potential for a conflict of interest to emerge, with Trump still playing dual roles as a presidential candidate and a corporate executive. lawyers.
“This is another example of Trump benefiting financially and personally from the political prestige he once had or is likely to have in the future,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. “The Saudis and the government of Oman may believe that giving Trump “The license agreement will benefit them in the future if Trump becomes president again. This deal could be a way to make sure they benefit from Trump’s victory.”
The Aida project in Oman, located 20 minutes outside the capital Muscat, will be built on a ridge overlooking the Arabian Sea on land controlled by the Oman Development and Tourism Company, a tourism agency run by owned by the Omani government. The project will include the construction of 3,500 luxury villas, two hotels with a total of 450 rooms and a golf course, in addition to many restaurants and shops.
The project is part of what the government calls Oman’s Vision 2040 to try to diversify the small country’s economy by building new hotels, golf courses and other tourist attractions. It should be noted that officials in Oman did not respond to a request for comment on the project on Sunday, as did representatives of Dar Al-Arkan, one of the largest real estate companies in Saudi Arabia.
During Trump’s presidency, relations between the United States and the Sultanate of Oman were not as close as with Saudi Arabia. Oman has refused to sign the so-called Abraham Accords, which stipulate that other Middle Eastern countries normalize relations with Israel.
Executives from the Riyadh-based Dar Al-Arkan sent out a press release on Sunday confirming the deal with the Trump Group for the new Amman business, while posting photos of Trump and his son Eric at Trump Tower in New York with executives from Dar Al handed out – Arkan.
This deal is one of the few times he has announced a new family real estate deal since Trump was elected president. The Trump family stopped signing new international agreements after Trump’s election. The real estate deal with the Saudi partner in Amman is the first since he left the White House.
Ziad Chaar, the CEO of Dar Al-Arkan International who attended the signing ceremony, worked for DAMAC Properties – the Trump family partner in Dubai – as the family used his name for what is known as the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai and the Trump Estate in DAMAC Hills, a mega compound. .
“We are confident that the relationship with Trump will enhance the attractiveness of the Aida project and attract investors from around the world looking to be part of an exceptional project,” Al-Shaar said in a statement. said.
If found guilty, the company will face fines and possible backlash from lenders and business partners who may shy away from dealing with a criminal.
Eric Trump said in a statement that the family business did not believe the new deal posed any problem, and since his father was president, the company had worked to avoid any conflict of interest. “We are excited to expand our portfolio of golf clubs and hotels in this beautiful location,” he said in a statement on Sunday. Emphasize that this will be an “extraordinary” project.
Stephen Cheung, former President Trump’s campaign spokesman, responded to questions about the Oman deal, or whether Trump would now be more involved in his business, with a statement attacking the Biden administration.
The Oman deal was announced as Trump ushered in his third campaign for the White House, while the Trump family and Trump himself have been the target of a series of civil and criminal investigations, including tax fraud charges against The Trump Group and its longtime chief. financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg.
If found guilty, the company will face fines and possible backlash from lenders and business partners who may shy away from dealing with a criminal; Not to mention that a conviction could present new political challenges for Trump. But the maximum possible fine in the tax fraud case is only $1.62 million, which is a small amount for the company. In his most recent financial disclosure report filed in early 2021 when Trump left the White House, Trump reported assets worth at least $1.3 billion.
Source: The New York Times