Turkey's President Erdogan arrives on first official visit to UAE in nearly a decade

Turkish leader welcomed by Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi

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Latest: Sheikh Mohamed holds talks with Turkey's President Erdogan in Abu Dhabi

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday for his first official visit to the UAE in almost a decade.

He was met by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, along with Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, state news agency Wam reported.

Mr Erdogan will spend two days in the Emirates to boost ties between the two countries.

Television cameras showed the Turkish leader's journey through the city to Qasr Al Watan, the Presidential Palace.

In the palace's main hall, an honour guard saluted and a military band played the national anthems of both nations in the presence of Mr Erdogan and Sheikh Mohamed.

On Tuesday, Mr Erdogan is expected at Expo 2020 Dubai for Turkey's national day of celebrations.

Dr Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa, earlier said Mr Erdogan's visit to the UAE "opens a new positive page in the bilateral relations between the two countries, and is in line with the UAE's direction towards strengthening bridges of communication and cooperation aimed at stability and prosperity in the region."

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, met Mr Erdogan in Ankara two months ago, in his first visit to Turkey in close to a decade.

During the visit, the UAE announced it was setting up a $10 billion investment fund in Turkey.

The visit and investment pledge marked a significant improvement in relations. Monday's visit is expected to cement those efforts, with ties expected to enter a new phase.

The UAE is Turkey’s top trading partner among the GCC countries. Bilateral trade between the two countries in 2020 reached $8 billion.

The UAE leadership believes that strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries will contribute to regional stability, prosperity and peace, news agency Wam reported.

Earlier this month it was announced Mr Erdogan, 67, had contracted Covid-19 shortly after a visit to Ukraine. He had only mild symptoms and put this down to him being fully vaccinated and having received the booster.

President Erdogan arrives in UAE - in pictures

Speaking to journalists after Friday prayers, he said: “I overcame it very, very easily. It was certainly because of the vaccination. I had two doses of CoronaVac, a Chinese-made inactive vaccine and three doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

"It only took a few days before my test turned negative."

His wife has also made a full recovery.

Mr Erdogan was last on an official visit to the Emirates in February 2013 for the Government Communication Forum in Sharjah.

Growing Turkish community upbeat

Ahmet Kayhan, adviser to the chairman of Dogus Group – one of Turkey’s largest conglomerates, said that efforts to improve UAE and Turkey relations would benefit businesses.

“There’s been a lot of interest from businesses for investment," said Mr Kayhan, who is also chief executive of Dubai-based Reidin Real Estate Information.

“In the last couple of months, we’ve seen an increasing interest by Turkish companies wanting to set up businesses in the UAE.

“I think this will continue, especially in the real estate market because the UAE offers one of the strongest real estate markets in the world that is high yield, high rental yield and a strong currency.”

Yahya Tosun, partner of the Tosun Dental Clinic in Dubai's Jumeirah district, moved to the UAE from Turkey in 2004. He said that the Turkish and Emirati peoples are natural friends and partners.

He believes that more professionals would like to explore opportunities in the UAE now that relations between the two countries are improving.

“From my industry's point of view, what I'm seeing is that there are more doctors who are interested in joining UAE healthcare," he said.

“There is also a huge interest from Turkish population, such as entrepreneurs who want to come and open major restaurants or hotels.

“It is also because of the cultural resemblance between Turkey and the UAE, so we feel more attracted by the UAE.

“The Turkish population is growing in Dubai. When I came here in 2004, it was only a few thousands, and now it’s more than 20,000.”

Updated: February 14, 2022, 6:38 PM
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