Thursday 17, December 2015

Dubai – MENA Herald:  Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group gave a candid keynote address at the Al Arabiya Global Discussions Forum at The St. Regis Dubai in Al Habtoor City on Wednesday December 17, 2015 where he raised concerns about rising Islamophobia in the West.

Al Habtoor said that the world had witnessed unprecedented change in recent years. “We have seen an increase in terrorism by extremists who are falsely using Islam as a cover.” He added, “They are not Muslims! Sadly, no place on earth is safe from their actions, and this has caused the biggest cross-cultural divide in living memory.”

Chairman awarded Columnist of the Year by Al Arabiya News

He blamed Donald Trump for igniting hatred against Muslims following his controversial calls to ban all Muslim visitors from the United States.

“The world’s 1.7 billion Muslims are under attack by an individual aiming to be the so-called Leader of the Free World,” he said.” I believe the American people are smarter than electing Donald Trump as their next leader. And I hope I am not proven wrong.”

Al Habtoor said comments by Donald Trump have ignited hatred; increased Islamophobia

He added, “Through politics, and the media, Trump has successfully exploited people’s fear of ‘The Other’ with racism and bigotry being his tools of trade.”

He said he is shocked by the disturbing silence from the Muslim and Arab leaders and the business world. “Non-Muslims around the world are disgusted and they are speaking out.  But where is the defence from the Muslim World? What is happening to us? We Muslims are the target. Our faith is under attack, and we are behaving like lambs to the slaughter.”

Event hosted at The St. Regis Dubai in Al Habtoor City

The Chairman urged Arab business leaders to terminate any business deals with the Republican Presidential hopeful. “He promises to ‘Make America Great Again’, when in fact he is gravely damaging his nation’s economy with his vulgar and highly offensive talk. His policies are based on hot air, and he is attacking our great faith. I would like to strongly urge anyone doing business with Donald Trump or any of his affiliated companies to stop.”

Al Habtoor said he was gravely concerned that despite Trump’s controversial comments his popularity in the US polls has not waned. “When I heard what Donald Trump said, I believed he would be out of the presidential race… Even after what he said he is still ahead in the US polls, steaming away with 35 per cent of the Republican vote.  It seems the more vulgar and offensive he is, the more the American voters love him. This shows that fear of Islam is dangerously on the rise.”

Al Habtoor also pointed the finger at western media for fueling the fire with irresponsible journalism, blaming them for widening the gap between the East and the West.

He said, “The media should be emphasizing the point that Islam is a peaceful religion. Maybe that’s too boring for the audience who prefer headlines full of scandal and slander.”

He added that Trump had dominated the headlines for far too long and urged the media to get back to reporting the “real news”.

The well-known UAE businessman and philanthropist also announced that he is organising a roundtable event with other philanthropists around the world to help alleviate global poverty. “This event will focus on alleviating global poverty, one of the biggest threats to our planet.  This is what we should be focusing on. Not wasting valuable time on Donald Trump. We need to work on a realistic solution to help the poor. Our focus should be on saving humanity irrelevant of colour, race or religion.”

Following his candid speech, the Al Habtoor Group Chairman was interviewed by Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya English News, and answered question from the audience.

Al Habtoor was also awarded with a trophy from Al Arabiya News honouring him as ‘Columnist of the Year’ for his “outstanding contributions in bridging the communication gap between the Arab world and the West through his bold positions, insights on global affairs and ability to influence public opinion.”