The Turkish economy is among the biggest economies in the world, while the UAE is rich in oil, has a small population and is considered one of the richest states in terms of per capita income. Both nations could afford to exist without the investment of the other, and have at times been overwhelmed by conflict due to differences in political views. So why are Turkey and the UAE so interested in maintaining strong economic relations?
Turkey is an emerging economy of great geo-political influence with a Gross National Product worth more than USD 1.4 trillion and a Gross Domestic Product of almost USD 800 billion. The UAE’s geographical and cultural proximity to Turkey has created many opportunities for business, causing it to become the second biggest trade partner for Turkey in the Middle East region, after Iraq.
In 2006, bilateral trade between Turkey and the UAE was worth USD 2.074 billion. With the help of tourism, construction, energy, real estate and oil sales, by 2010, Turkey-UAE investment had shot up to USD 10 billion. Since then, trade between the two states has continued to increase, with present UAE investments in Turkey being worth USD 5.01 billion and Turkish investments in UAE being worth USD 6.51 billion. As trade between the two countries continues to rapidly develop, the UAE has been predicted to become Turkey’s second most important export destination by 2030.
Despite, good trade relations, both countries have had differences in political opinion on topics relating to things such as the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, with Turkey being a defender of the brotherhood and the UAE holding a firm stance against the organisation. This difference in opinion led to a dispute resulting in the UAE’s delay of a 2013 agreement to invest USD 12 billion in a power project in Turkey. However, Turkey has displayed a keen interest in maintaining strong economic ties with the UAE, no matter what their political differences may be.
During the 2015 Cityscape Global exhibition in Dubai – the world’s largest networking exhibition and conference on property development, which is attended by regional and international investors – Turkish real estate agencies were the main overseas exhibitors, with more than 50 companies from across Turkey’s real estate sector occupying 4,2000 square metres of exhibition space. Turkish real estate companies were hoping to promote local projects to UAE investors in in order to capitalise on a new wave of property investment in the country.
UAE companies have reciprocated and already shown interest in Turkey through active investments, including ones such as the Abu Dhabi based hotel chain Rotana’s opening of its first property, a 30-storey hotel, apartment and office tower, in Istanbul during July 2015.
It seems as though both Turkey and the UAE understand the benefits of maintaining a strong economic relationship. Turkey shares an Islamic heritage with the UAE, is geographically close to the UAE, and has a sustainable consumer base in its population, of which 60 per cent is less than 30 years of age. All of these factors make it paramount for trade relations to remain stable between the two regions despite previous obstacles in their conflicting political views.