Donald Trump's New Year's Eve speech praises Dubai business partner Hussain Sajwani

The President-elect was speaking at an event at his estate in Florida

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The Independent Online

Long before he was won the election, questions were being asked about the possible conflict of interest between Donald Trump’s business interests and those of the country.

Such questions have only intensified since the tycoon with a myriad of business interests around the world, has become the US President-elect.

On New Year’s Eve, at a speech delivered before 800 paying guests at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Mr Trump celebrated his election victory, and then heaped praise on his business partners in Dubai and elsewhere. Many observers said the speech encapsulated Mr Trump’s challenge in trying to disentangle his business and official functions. 

In a vide of the speech obtained by CNN, Mr Trump can be seen name-checking various prominent people at the event, including Hussain Sajwani, a business partner in Dubai. Mr Sajwani’s compay, DAMAC Properties, has built the Trump International Course Dubai. Mr Sajwani's son, Abbas, posted a number of images on social media of their visit to Florida.

“Hussain and the whole family, the most beautiful people, are here from Dubai tonight. And they're seeing it and they’re loving it,” Mr Trump said.



A photo posted by Abbas H Sajwani (@abbas_saj) on

Political law expert Ken Gross told the network: “President-elect Trump is using his largesse as President-elect to enhance his existing business relationships.”

He added: “Apparently, in his view, this practice does not run afoul of the representations he has made to date regarding the disentanglement of his business and official functions. It remains to be seen if this will ever get sorted out.”

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However, Mr Trump’s transition team has said the President-elect and Mr Sajwani did not discuss their business partnership in Florida.

“They had no formal meetings or professional discussions. Their interactions were social,” said Hope Hicks, Mr Trump’s spokeswoman.

Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump adviser, added: “This man is allowed to have a New Year's Eve celebration with his friends, or his business partners, or his acquaintances.”

She added: “I spent a lot of time at Mar-a-Lago during this break. I had dinner with the Hussains one night - Hussain and his wife, absolutely lovely people.

“If you took that example to it's extreme, nobody would be able to be friends with anybody else.”

Mr Trump cancelled a December news conference in which he was due to announce his plans to address his conflicts of interests. Mr Trump has now said he will make an announcement sometime before the inauguration. Speaking this weekend at Mar-A-Lago, he appeared to suggest there was not a big problem,

“It is not a big deal. You people are making that a big deal, the business,” he said. “It’s actually a very simple situation.”