In early June, long-standing tensions between the oil-rich Gulf “brothers” culminated in a diplomatic onslaught and a siege against Qatar, led by Saudi Arabia and backed most prominently by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain. Turkey took a pro-Qatar stance, and street demonstrations were even held in support of Doha, whose ties with Ankara have recently flourished, especially in the economic realm. Does this mean that Turkey is ready to protect Qatar at the expense of confronting the Saudi bloc? Can Turkey afford such a position especially in economic terms? Is the scale of Turkey’s ties with Qatar so big as to forsake relations with Qatar’s besiegers? A comparative overview of Turkey’s economic ties with Qatar and its adversaries may help find the answers to these and similar questions.
Al-Monitor reported in January on the significance of Gulf money for the Turkish economy, given recurring hypes about big Arab investments. The conclusion was that Gulf capital “represents less than 10% of the external funds that Turkey is benefiting from either as direct investment or loans and portfolio investments.” The article also said, “Since 2003, Turkey’s annual use of external funds has stood at an average of $40 billion, and Europe is its undisputed No. 1 partner in this regard. While the United States comes in second, the share of Gulf investors makes them quite a junior partner on the list. Even if speculation of certain covert or unrecorded funds is taken seriously, the Gulf’s share would still not exceed 10%. The bottom line is, given the scale of Turkey’s external financing needs and the Gulf countries’ investment record in Turkey, Arab capital can in no way substitute for the Western funds from which Turkey is benefiting.”