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Don't believe media buzz about Arab buying spree in Turkey

The Turkish press often trumpets enormous flows of Arab money into Turkey, but the data paint a different picture.
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Turkey has been abuzz over the past few years with talk about Arab purchases in the country, suggesting a significant flow of Arab money into real estate investments such as homes, business offices and land and direct investments in banks and industrial and commercial companies. “Arabs” usually means buyers from wealthy Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. But are Gulf investors really on a buying spree in Turkey?

Most recently, the issue of Arab acquisitions has made headlines as part of a simmering controversy over a government plan to build an artificial waterway in Istanbul as an alternative to the Bosporus. The planned waterway — called Canal Istanbul and dubbed a “crazy project” by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself when he first announced it in 2011 — is designed to link the Black and Marmara Seas in what is touted as an effort to reroute tanker traffic from the Bosporus and thus reduce safety risks for the city. Amid grave environmental concerns over the project, another issue that has come under scrutiny is the ownership of the land along the route, as plots on the would-be shores of the canal are being snapped up.

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