DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Feb 14 – US President Donald Trump’s sons are to inaugurate a branded golf course in Dubai on Saturday, the first public launch for the business empire since Trump took office in January.
Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump will attend the opening of the Trump International Golf Club Dubai, developed by luxury real estate company DAMAC Properties. The launch comes amid growing concern in Washington over the president’s potential conflict of interest.
In January, Trump — at the time still president-elect — said he had rejected a $2 billion deal with DAMAC in Dubai as a personal and not official move.
“I didn’t have to turn it down,” he told a press conference in January. “But I have a no-conflict-of-interest provision as president.”
Trump sparked controversy last year in the mainly Muslim United Arab Emirates when he said during his campaign that he wanted to impose a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the United States.
Dubai-based concept store Lifestyle, which has branches across the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan, announced it would no longer sell Trump-branded home decor items out of respect for its customers.
DAMAC Properties at the time declined to comment on Trump’s remarks, but said the golf course development would continue.
The United Arab Emirates is not among the seven majority-Muslim countries listed on Trump’s controversial executive order restricting travel to the United States.
Since his November victory, Trump has said he will remove himself from running his business empire and transfer corporate control to his two eldest sons.
But the president has resisted divesting despite calls by ethics organisations.
The Trump Organization has instead said it would no longer pursue new deals outside of the United States.
The 18-hole Dubai golf course predates the pledge, with talks surrounding the project going back at least to 2015.
Critics have raised questions of conflict of interest over Trump’s business ties on the grounds that while the president is no longer nominally in charge of his eponymous empire, he may continue to profit from it.
Ethics lawyers in the United States are now suing Trump for alleged violation of the US constitution.
Liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit in January, arguing that Trump’s business ties violate an emolument clause in the constitution which prohibits the acceptance of payments from foreign governments by US officials.
US presidents are not legally required to give up business or investments while in office.