Upon his return from Dubai, Turkish President Abdullah Gul was all smiles. The Turkish businessmen he was chatting with were jovial. [We from Milliyet] approached the President and asked him:
“Were you as satisfied with your visit as you appear to be?”
“Why shouldn't I be?”, he answered. “Whoever I asked told me: ‘I closed a deal.’ Nobody seems to have come back empty handed. [One Turkish businessman] said he secured a 300 million dollar deal, another spoke of one worth 500 million. One told me that he will expand his business while another said he struck a new agreement. [I have heard reports of] offers for billion dollar projects.”
Gul continued: “We have to do more business here [in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)]; It may be a small country but look at the business they’re doing with Iran - 25 billion dollars. Our trade with Iran is only at 5 billion dollars. Iran imports [a large portion of products] from this small country. The world’s largest container port is here and trade is spectacular. We must increase our share. We should attract investors here to Turkey and our businessmen should take their share in mega projects [in the UAE].”
Businessmen were delighted with the outcome of the President Gul’s three-day visit to the UAE. The more than 100 businessman who accompanied the President concluded deals worth 3 billion dollars. [These projects] included work on the airport and express roads, as well as other mammoth construction [projects] which include building large hotels.
Throughout his visit, President Gul met face-to-face with [Turkish] businessmen and UAE officials. First, he listened to top businessmen to learn about their lines of work, their wishes and their questions. He then met with the emirs of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE ministers, senior public officials and leading local businessmen. He raised the questions of the Turkish businessmen [whom he had previously spoken to] to all the right people, and managed to find solutions to [almost all of their problems].
Gul’s visit boosted the confidence of Turkish businessmen operating in UAE. He visited the Rixos hotel - currently under construction on Dubai’s famous Palm Island - for a briefing on the hotel’s construction and operating plans.
He listened to projects of such top Turkish firms as NUROL, TAV and Tasyapi [big names in the Turkish construction industry], as well as MAN [a financial services provider]. He expressed particular interest in their issues, and also showed interest in UAE investments and activities in Turkey. He encouraged UAE businessmen to invest in Turkey.
President Gul repeatedly stated that the real purpose of his visit to UAE was business. “The biggest funds of the world are here. A time when Europe is going through a recession, this is great opportunity for us. Four of our companies are seeking projects worth billions of dollars. To be honest, that is why we are here. We spoke one-on-one about all these projects. I spoke with the highest levels of authority here. Giant companies from the Emirates want to invest in Turkey and I spoke with every one of them.”
Gul highlighted the need to encourage foreign real estate investments in Turkey. He stressed that regulations must be revised and eased. Turkey wants to see reciprocity in foreign real estate purchases. He gave one example:
“A foreigner who buys in Istanbul will come to Istanbul more because his home is there. He will pay utilities and expenses. He will ride in his car, buy gasoline and pay taxes. This means income for Turkey. That is how you have to look at it. We spoke a lot on this. There are indeed certain problems, but I hope that they will be overcome.”
There are approximately 2,500 Turkish businessmen and other workers in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. [These businessmen] are generally satisfied with their situation and say that Turkish businessmen hold a high level of prestige. They also mentioned that people [in the UAE] were sympathetic to Turkey.