Turkey's Erdogan begins three-day Gulf tour in hopes of boosting economy

He will visit Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE this week

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. SPA
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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has begun a three-day Gulf tour to try to expand economic ties.

Mr Erdogan landed in Saudi Arabia on Monday, where he attended the Saudi-Turkish business forum.

He is expected to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, an official from his office in Ankara told The National.

On Tuesday, he will visit Doha and will hold talks with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim.

He will visit Abu Dhabi on Wednesday and hold talks with President Sheikh Mohamed.

“Negotiations are expected to be carried out in all aspects of bilateral relations with the three countries, especially projects in the fields of economy and investment,” said the official.

The visit will advance existing co-operation in various sectors and include discussions centred on global and regional issues, and the exchange of ideas, said the official.

Before taking off from Istanbul airport, Mr Erdogan said the visit has two main topics – “investment and a financial dimension”.

“Turkey will have a serious investment opportunity in the defence industry, infrastructure and superstructure investments in the three countries,” he told reporters.

“In addition, these countries will have the opportunity to purchase certain assets from Turkey,” he said.

The talks will touch on developments in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Palestine.

On Syria, Mr Erdogan said on Monday that he was open to a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, but that setting the withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syrian territory as a precondition for talks was “unacceptable”.

The Turkish President will be accompanied by a delegation of senior officials, the source said.

Last week, Mr Erdogan said the tour would present an opportunity for him to personally see the support that Gulf countries will provide for Turkey.

“There are pledges from the Gulf countries, during our past meetings, to pump large investments into Turkey and we will put the finishing touches during our next tour,” he said.

Mr Erdogan said senior Turkish officials had visited Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE to prepare for his tour.

Turkey's Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek and Central Bank governor Hafize Gaye Erkan visited Saudi Arabia last week.

Turkey’s ties with Saudi Arabia and a host of Arab countries were strained by Ankara’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt during the wave of protests across the Middle East after 2011.

For the past two years, Mr Erdogan has established a diplomatic front with Gulf states, which in turn have provided funding to lift pressure off the economy.

Trade and investment deals worth billions have been signed between Turkey and the GCC's two largest economies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

So far, Qatar and the UAE have provided Turkey with about $20 billion in currency swap agreements while Saudi Arabia deposited $5 billion into Turkey’s Central Bank in March.

Following the re-election of Mr Erdogan last month, the UAE and Turkey signed a trade deal potentially worth $40 billion over the next five years.

Mr Erdogan will visit northern Cyprus on Thursday after he completes his Gulf visit.

Updated: July 18, 2023, 5:40 AM