Dear Ambassador, first of all congratulations for your new post. Could you get used to Abu Dhabi? We are not strangers to the United Arab Emirates. I had served as First Secretary in Turkish Embassy in Abu Dhabi 20 years ago. Our son was born here. We made lots of friends and tried to keep in touch with them throughout this time. Before coming here, I was the Director General for Middle East and North Africa at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had the chance to meet and cooperate with UAE officials and counterparts during my tenure of five and a half years term in the Ministry. In this vein, I was able to start to work immediately from where we left off.
Now, I gladly observe that, even in a short period of time like 4 months since I arrived, the bilateral relations are picking up again. According to Turkish Exporters Assembly figures, Turkish exports to UAE have increased 77% during last month. At the beginning of February, Turkey and UAE will have a Joint Economic Commission meeting in Ankara, under co-chairmanship of Deputy Prime Minister H.E. Mr. Mehmet Şimşek and UAE Minister of Economy H.E. Mr. Sheikh Sultan Al Mansouri. This will be sending a strong message to the business circles in both countires about the strengthening economic relations and it will definitely give a new impetus to bilateral political relations as well. What changes you observe since you last served here in Abu Dhabi? It is for sure that UAE has achieved a lot in the meantime. It can be seen easily and felt immediately. Especially Dubai has now a new fabric and appearance through tremendous investments. I also observe that the business is now conducted in a very modern and professional way, compatible with the global standards. All these positive changes made UAE even more attractive and a center of interest for investors and businessmen from across the World. In the framework of Turkey’s “2023 Vision”,”Dubai Expo 2020”,”KSA Vision 2030”, “Qatar Fifa World Cup 2022” hundreds of billions Dollar worth projects are underway. And you know the GCC region very well. What do you expect for Turkey in the near future? As we all know, 2016 has witnessed some global economic difficulties. We have seen the slowing of economic growth in general. The drop in oil prices and consequently the decrease in oil and natural gas revenues led GCC countries to revise their investment policies and economic priorities.
But, we have reasons to be more optimistic for 2017. Oil prices expected to get stabilized around the level of 56-58 USD per barrel. This seems to be providing some comfort for GCC countries and make the realization of certain ambitious projects possible. Obviously, this will help increase the opportunities for the Turkish firms in the region as well. Particularly, Turkish construction companies have a high reputation in both UAE and other GCC countries. The total value of the current projects that Turkish companies are implementing in UAE is around 5 billion US dollars. We expect that this will increase in view of the projects in the pipeline and especially Dubai Expo2020, in particular. Current data and indicators show that investments and big projects in the GCC
region will likely to continue in the future and there will be many more opportunities and chances for Turkish companies in UAE and other GCC countries. We have learned that you are constantly in touch with the representatives of Turkish companies doing business in UAE. Do you also explain the investment environment in Turkey to GCC nationals? How they are responding?
The people of UAE feel close to Turkey. Therefore, it is not surprising that the financial, commercial and investment opportunities in Turkey are on the radar screen of the UAE businessmen constantly. In this respect, real estate sector still maintains its priority but we see an increasing interest for investment in tourism, hotel management, agro-industry, energy, renewable energy an so forth. We know that UAE wants to diversify its international investment portfolio and eager to increase the share for promising economies. We expect that this will also have a positive impact and serve as a catalyst for further strengthening economic relations between UAE and Turkey.
Do you have a message for Turkish and GCC nationals? There are strong brotherly and friendly bonds between Turkish and UAE peoples based on common history, culture and interaction dating back to centuries. Turkey has never considered the security and the stability of the Gulf separate from its own. Also today our bilateral relations with UAE are further developing and deepening on the basis of mutual trust. Interaction between the two countries is increasing in every field. In this vein, even the number of the weekly flights between Turkey and UAE which stands at 100, is a very significant indicator. Turkey-UAE relations will grow even stronger than before in the period ahead.