Is Trump Jr the right person to speak at a Dubai university graduation?

When I heard that Donald Trump Jr would be the keynote speaker at the 20th commencement of the American University in Dubai, I thought the easiest thing to do would be to give Jr another kicking. And why not? There’s plenty to kick him about.

Let’s start with his 2016 Twitter post comparing Syrian refugees to poisoned Skittles, and suggesting that America should not accept any Syrians; or his father’s order to ban citizens of seven — then six — Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for at least 90 days. Despite both issues causing uproar, should we really be surprised?

American society has long been hostile towards Arabs and Muslims. Following the September 11 attacks, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported a 1,700 percent increase in hate crimes against Muslim Americans. But it’s understandable after such a tragedy that hate would find a way to surface, correct? Well not exactly, considering American foreign policy has caused millions of Muslim lives to be lost as it “rescues Muslims or tries to help free them from tyranny”.

So to hear that Donald Trump’s eldest son is to be the keynote speaker at AUD, from where I graduated, should be slightly disturbing. But it’s not, because I think the Trumps might be just what AUD students need: an awakening.

In my third year of university, former US President Bill Clinton spoke and answered questions from students on campus. It was the most boring 30 minutes of my life. Questions were squashed by Clinton’s media-savvy answers that didn’t really answer anything.

So would I rather Trump Jr speak at AUD? Yes.

Most students at the private (and highly expensive) university, where one semester can cost more than AED60,000, wouldn’t have suffered many hardships in their lives. The institution is more famous for its parking lot of Ferraris than it is for its education. Blasphemous as it may sound, that’s one thing they have in common with Trump Jr, who grew up the life of a privileged kid.


After college, Trump Jr grew up away from his father and spent time working as a bartender while living in a truck “to find himself”. He reportedly had a bad relationship with his father, who apparently had little time for his children when they were young (three of whom were sent to boarding school). He developed close ties with them only when they were old enough to talk business.

And love him or hate him, Trump Jr knows a thing or two about making money.

Trump Jr supervised several successful building projects, including the renovation and re-leasing of 40 Wall Street; the construction and sale of apartments in the Trump International Hotel and Tower; and the renovation of 502 Park Avenue.

And what are keynote speakers for? Just spoon-fed inspiration? Jr might be offering another type of inspiration. Whether students decide they don’t want to be like the Trumps or they want to be just like them, there’s no doubting the Trumps leave an impression. The way I see it, a reaction is better than no reaction, which is more than I can say for Clinton. But they also leave a valuable lesson for us all: anything is possible.

Donald Sr’s run for presidency was a joke to many, but those who mocked him are not laughing now. As for Trump Jr? He hasn’t ruled out the possibility of running for New York governor someday. And it’s not a long shot that he just might win.

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