Turkey's Erdogan lands in UAE as part of Gulf tour

Turkish President arrives for talks in Abu Dhabi with President Sheikh Mohamed

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan landed in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday looking to forge stronger ties with the UAE.

Mr Erdogan and his delegation were greeted by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court.

Also welcoming him were Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad, Adviser for Special Affairs at the Ministry of the Presidential Court, Mohamed Al Suwaidi, Minister of Investment, and Saeed Al Dhaheri, UAE ambassador to Turkey.

Mr Erdogan is due to meet President Sheikh Mohamed on Wednesday, the final day of his tour of the Gulf.

Talks are expected to build on ties forged when Sheikh Mohamed visited Ankara in November 2021 and pledged a $10 billion fund to invest in Turkey's economy.

The two leaders last met in June after Mr Erdogan's re-election.

A number of deals and agreements are expected on Wednesday. Mr Erdogan has sought to improve diplomatic ties and friendships with Gulf nations after disagreements over the past decade.

Turkey, with its substantial population, manufacturing base and location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, is seen as a natural partner for business-minded Gulf nations.

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

Turkish President Erdogan's visit to the Gulf region - in pictures

Before taking off from Istanbul, Mr Erdogan said the visit had two main priorities – “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 said.

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

An official reception was held in honour of Mr Erdogan on his arrival in Saudi Arabia on Monday, the first stop of a three-day tour.

The two sides signed deals across various sectors, including in the fields of defence and investment, Saudi Arabia's news agency Spa said.

Sheikh Mohamed was among the first world leaders to meet the Turkish President after his re-election.

The UAE President was accompanied by ministers and officials, including Sheikh Mansour and Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology.

“The two leaders discussed their shared interest in advancing sustainable economic growth and social development, and explored opportunities for further collaboration in focus areas including the economy, advanced technology, renewable energy, transport and logistics, manufacturing, tourism and culture,” state news agency Wam reported at the time.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in UAE

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in UAE

Long-standing ties between nations

Relations between the UAE and Turkey go back several decades.

UAE Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, paid a visit in 1984 in what was as a milestone moment in Arab-Turkish relations, making headline news across the Middle East.

Non-oil trade between the two nations reached about $19 billion last year, a jump of 40 per cent from 2021 and of more than 100 per cent from 2020.

This made Turkey the fastest-growing partner among the top 10 trade partners of the Emirates.

The UAE announced the establishment of a $10 billion investment fund in Turkey in November 2021. The focus of the fund was on strategic investment, most notably in the logistics, energy, health and food sectors.

The two countries have recently expanded air links, with Emirates, Etihad Airways, flydubai and Air Arabia connecting Dubai and Abu Dhabi with destinations such as Istanbul and Ankara, and some of the popular resorts on Turkey's south coast.

Plans to operate 10 weekly flights from Abu Dhabi to Istanbul were recently announced by Etihad.

Emirates also has strong presence in Turkey, with 21 weekly flights to Istanbul operated using Boeing-777 and Airbus A380 planes, as well as two flights in partnership with flydubai.

Air Arabia also has 50 weekly flights to Turkey. Most of these, 45 in total, depart from Sharjah International Airport, while the rest take off from Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Flydubai's network has grown to five destinations, including Ankara, Bodrum, Trabzon and Istanbul.

The airline has increased operations for the busy summer travel period.

Between June and September, flydubai will have operated up to 102 weekly flights between Dubai International and the five areas it serves in Turkey.

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi started flights to Antalya early last month, running on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, as part of the summer season.

Updated: July 19, 2023, 12:22 PM