DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Donald Trump's call to keep Muslims from traveling to the United States is causing dismay among business leaders in the Middle East, a region where the billionaire presidential candidate has done business for years, viewed as well-suited for his brand of over-the-top luxury.
Emirati business magnate Khalaf al-Habtoor only months ago proclaimed his support for the Republican hopeful, but that's all changed with Trump's increasingly incendiary comments about Islam.
"If he comes to my office, I will not let him in. I reject him," Habtoor told the Associated Press. "Maybe we can meet somewhere where I can debate with him in a very civilized way, not in the way he approaches people."
Meanwhile, a Mideast company, the Dubai-based Landmark Group, said it would pull all Trump home-decor products at its 180 Lifestyle stores in the region, as it "values and respects the sentiments of its customers."
Trump has for years looked to do business in the Middle East, particularly in the Gulf and the emirate of Dubai. Trump has lent his name to two high-profile Dubai golf course projects and an ongoing real estate development, and sought for years to expand his hotel chain into the region.
But some of his rhetoric about Islam on the campaign trail - including his call to monitor mosques and his proposal this week to temporarily bar Muslims from traveling to the U.S. - has led to increased wariness in the Arab world. Trump's campaign did not respond to questions about his reputation and business dealings in the Middle East, though he has said many Muslims continue to support him.
In a column published Aug. 9 in the state-owned the National newspaper of Abu Dhabi, Habtoor praised Trump for believing "in bringing back his country's superpower status."
But late last month, Habtoor wrote a follow-up column on Trump that began with: "I was wrong and I do not mind admitting it."
"When strength is partnered with ignorance and deceit, it produces a toxic mix threatening the United States and our world," he wrote, ending his column by endorsing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.
Trump has made other comments at times praising or ridiculing countries in the Middle East. At a recent campaign rally, he applauded Qatar's new, at least $15 billion airport, while calling U.S. airports "third-world."
Trump also made comments in 2011, as well as this year, falsely saying that Kuwait paid nothing to the U.S. for driving out occupying Iraqi forces during the 1991 Gulf War. U.S. congressional records show Kuwait contributed $16.1 billion for the war.
Those Gulf War comments recently drew boos on a comedy talk show in Kuwait, which still holds the U.S. in high regard for coming to its aid in the war.
Newspapers in the Emirates also criticized Trump in their Wednesday editions, with the Gulf News saying his "extremism is no different than that of Daesh," referring to the Islamic State. The paper offered him this advice: "Zip it, Donald. Just zip it."