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Feature Opinion

BREAKING: What The US Election Results Mean For The UAE

The brutal election campaign, that has spanned 18 months, is finally over. 

There is a new president of the United States. 

President Donald Trump.

The new leader of the US will will replace Barack Obama in January. The campaigns and elections have been been in the spotlight all over the world and with around 50,000 American expats based in Dubai, it’s safe to say that the 8 million or so people in the UAE, are aware of what’s been going on in the US.

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Do people in the UAE give a damn about the outcome US election?

In Dubai, general feeling towards America has been largely shaped by US foreign policy and involvement in the Middle East. This may have been impacted more by some of the more controversial Trump-isms, but there seemed to be apathy towards the campaigns, and the new President.

Last year, the name bearing sign at Trump’s Damac-run golf course was removed following comments deemed offensive and irresponsible, but was put up a few days later. This showed the reactions to his campaign were outrage, but also, short lived. 

Maybe the fact that Dubai doesn’t run by a voting system, encourages an apathetic attitude, or it could just be that the Trump presidency won’t have too much of an impact on the UAE in general. 

It could also be, that the Democratic candidate, didn’t offer a huge alternative.

That said, there is also a feeling of unknowing about this. Trump isn’t exactly politically experienced. He’s a businessman and a showman, but leader of the free world? There’s no telling what the next four years have in store.

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How does a Trump presidency impact Travel & Tourism?

It’s already been a struggle for Arabs and Muslims (or those who are just a little too brown, bearded, foreign looking etc.) to enter the US with Obama, the first black president. With Trump, now in power, and bans on Muslims, walls securing his borders - whether he can implement or not, Muslims and Middle Easterners, all tanned people even, will be waiting to see how his domestic policies will affect movement and travel. 

If people in this region, decide not to take the risk, and to avoid travel to the US, prominent airlines such as Emirates and Etihad, may suffer slightly, but this is an initial reaction, and surely, won’t span four years. The economy won’t be affected. 

Transport has been very important for the growth of the UAE economy. The negotiations over international air space have been put on hold as Obama’s administration didn’t seem to be pushing back against Emirates and others. Now is the time that UAE airlines should be growing their presence in the US, however, if Trump is successful in his negotiations, you can bet there will be a push back against the status quo.

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Will this impact the UAE politically?

Firstly, there hasn’t been much substance to Trumps foreign policy (in fact, there hasn’t been much real foreign policy, full-stop). Other than that, Trump will negotiate better trade agreements than previous administrations, however, it’s hard to see how he will work with the UAE and Middle East. At the end of the day, he is a businessman, at his core, and will surely be smart enough to make sensible decisions regarding relationships with such dynamic and pioneering countries (but we are speaking about Trump…) We can assume he will remain friendly with Saudi Arabia, but will remain suspicious of Iran and is definitely pro-Israel. 

He will take a hard stance on ISIS in theory, which is a positive policy, but his actual strategy will need to be pulled apart and evaluated before action is taken. We don’t need a replay of Bush. 

Trump will likely focus on domestic policy more than foreign policy which means less interference in the Middle East in general.

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Let’s put this in perspective

The macro economic landscape is not good a the moment. GDP is down in the UAE this year, and the region is still unstable. The low price of oil is largely driven by fracking which originated in the US, so that adage of if the US sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold still holds true. 

The UAE could really do with a boost in the global economy over the next few years in the run up to Expo 2020. To put it bluntly, we need a boom. We need inward investment, we need 20m tourists to come here to all our amazing new attractions. 

If Donald Trump does Make America great again, then a boost in the US economy will be a good thing for the UAE. 

Written By

Richard Fitzgerald

Rich is a media fiend who hasn't been seen without an iPhone in hand since 2007. With a passion for all things health and fitness, what he lacks in hair he more than makes up for in creativity. As the founder of Lovin Dubai, he's our fearless leader.