Only reason I've put this story up was because I had a discussion recently with a sales director of one of these big fancy developments in Dubai and he was saying that he was looking to target the "Islamic" market in the states.
He believed there was money there but thought there were two type of Muslims. On one scale, there are those who have integrated with American society and as such would feel themselves uncomfortable with living as an American in the Middles East whilst on the other there would be a raft interested in buying a second home here.
I just wondered if he had a viable US sales strategy???
'[The Donald' sells Dubai
Last Updated: June 24. 2008 11:56PM UAE / June 24. 2008 7:56PM GMT
NEW YORK // The lights dimmed in the domed tent that had appeared overnight on one of the most expensive corners of Park Avenue and a James Bond figure came into view.
With a model of the new Trump International Hotel & Tower on Palm Jumeirah as a backdrop, the man raced towards the distinctive rocket-shaped building in a speedboat. Moments later, the video showed him stepping out of a private jet and then a sports car.
The incongruity did not have time to sink in when Donald Trump, wearing a shiny pink tie and with the famous hair combed firmly in place, began to speak.
“Five years ago, I started hearing stories about a place called Dubai,” he said. “Look at it now. In the world, there is no place like it.”
It takes a lot to get the attention of jaded New Yorkers, but no one does it better than “The Donald”, as the locals like to call the city’s most famous property billionaire.
To sell his most ambitious project to date, a bevy of celebrities had been assembled, including the Hollywood stars Demi Moore and Naomi Watts and the supermodel Heidi Klum as bait for the gaggle of paparazzi.
There was also a 3.5 metre model of the development made entirely from Lego bricks.
The event was part of a US$5 million (Dh18.4m) “global launch” of the building in New York on Monday. On a corner of Central Park, about 200 luminaries and media executives sipped drinks while butlers in all-white suits served trays of hors d’oeuvres.
But more than the launch of a single tower, the event was part of an aggressive stepping up of Dubai into the international market.
Chris O’Donnell, the chief executive of Nakheel, took the stage after Mr Trump and cited the world’s “greatest” cities. “London, New York, Sydney,” he said. “And now, Dubai.”
During an interview earlier in the day, Mr O’Donnell said the event was a chance for the company to “express itself to the international community”.
Nakheel, a property developer wholly owned by an investment fund of the Dubai Government, is increasingly taking on the role of ambassador for Dubai’s construction boom.
Manal Shaheen, the director of sales, marketing and customer service, said last week that the company had moved past its “quiet phase” and was now selling three times as many projects as it did last year.
Until recently, Dubai has mostly been known for projects such as The World – the man-made islands in the shape of the continents – or the colony of theme parks rising from the desert of Dubailand.
But as the property market matures, Nakheel and other developers want to prove to the international investment community that its rapid growth and status as a hangout for the rich and famous is sustainable.
Monday night’s event guaranteed that some of the celebrities in America would be seen jostling alongside the Nakheel logo in the morning papers and on the television news bulletins.
It also showed a contrast in fortunes: as US home prices continue to sag and the economy worsens, Dubai’s economy is growing.
Among New Yorkers, though, there were some traces of apprehension.
Last week’s decision by the British government to raise the security threat level in the UAE, for example, could be a problem for Dubai’s growth into the US market.
“Safety is a big issue today for Americans,” said Pamela Fiori, editor-in-chief of Town & Country, who was watching the launch from the sidelines.
Dubai, she said, “would be a big risk for them”. Similarly, the proximity of countries such as Iran – which is regularly featured alongside Venezuela as a place with values conflicting with the US way of life – could decrease the size of the buying pool.Barry Dillon, a former public relations officer for the Pentagon, who was walking in Central Park, said the region was “too tumultuous” to consider as an investment.
“Any time you live in countries where the government is questionable, it can be difficult,” said Mr Dillon. “Iran used to be a great place for Americans 20 or 30 years ago. Look at it now. Things over there are too unstable, too tumultuous.”
Still, some said they would invest in the region because of the rapid appreciation of prices.
“Going abroad would probably be the best thing right now,” said Bruce Lee, a property broker in Manhattan. “Trump is smart. He’s very opportunist. He’s always looking for the next big market.”
For the Trump Organisation, the project is part of wider push in the region and other developing economies. Mr Trump is using the cachet of his brand to gain access to projects across the world that are seeking a reputation for luxury.
Mr Trump would not say whether his company had made any financial investment in the new tower that will bear his name because it was a “private deal”.
His son, Eric, who is vice president of acquisitions at the Trump Organisation, said the company was looking “very seriously” at launching projects in Asia and the Middle East. The family is especially interested in launching a golf course in the UAE.
“Dubai is a developer’s dream,” Eric Trump said. “You can build anything you want. It really allows us to let our creative side out. The only boundaries are your imagination and the laws of physics.”
Other companies, such as Ross Perot Jr’s Hillwood Development Company, are trying to make inroads with the large builders in the region.
Last month, Mr Perot said his company had struck a deal with a Tamouh-affiliated group and Pramerica Real Estate Investors to develop a 106-hectare project on Al Reem Island.
He would not describe the relationship with Tamouh, other than to say that Hillwood would be a minority partner and would handle the creative aspects of the project.
Carol Willis, director of the Skyscraper Museum in New York, said this would be the natural course for developers during Dubai’s period of evolution. “Our developers aren’t going to Dubai or Abu Dhabi to build. They are looking for somebody to buy their brand’s name,” she said.
“There’s still a ways to go.”