In the United Arab Emirates, home to the only Trump-branded golf course in the region and rulers who for years cultivated warm ties with the former US president, Donald Trump is back in the spotlight.
Not the real Trump, who has kept a relatively low profile since losing re-election last year, but a wax versions of Trump and his wife Melania.
The two are some of the stars of Dubai’s new Madame Tussauds, the tourist-friendly wax statue museum known for its celebrity likenesses that ceremonially opened its first Middle East branch here on Wednesday.
The lavish waxworks temple located on a small artificial island off Dubai unveiled 60 celebrities and leaders, from a sultry Kylie Jenner to a beaming Chinese President Xi Jinping, along with a handful of Bollywood dance stars in various dance poses.
Trump’s figure, sporting his signature red tie, is seated at a desk with the former president looking down and checking out his smartphone, while a sleek wax figure of former first lady Melania stands by his side in a cobalt blue dress, her classic look during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“He looks very real but he’s not quite orange enough,” said 27-year-old visitor Marwa al-Haddad after snapping a selfie.
The wax figures at Dubai’s Madame Tussauds were each created over six months by a team of 20 artists at the London studio, where wax was poured into metal frames, then sculpted with clay.
Each strand of real human hair was methodically implanted using needles.
During his presidency, Trump was considered a close friend in the capital of Abu Dhabi.
Gulf Arab sheikhdoms welcomed Trump’s policies in the region, including his harder-line on Iran, as he pulled America out of Tehran’s landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
In Dubai, the flashy Trump International Golf Club, developed by DAMAC Properties, sprawls from the center of a luxurious collection of upscale apartments and villas.
To design the collection, the Madame Tussauds team conducted an extensive population survey to figure out who potential visitors would most want to see.
There is no President Joe Biden currently on display, but a company spokesman said he could be featured at some point in the future.