THE ‘Arab Spring’ is fuelling a Turkish summer as Saudis, Kuwaitis and other tourists from the Gulf states who would have previously spent summers in Syria or Egypt look further north.

Figures from the Turkish ministry of culture and tourism show bookings from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are up by 75 per cent and, with the beginning of Ramazan days away, hotels in Istanbul and the north-western city of Bursa are fully booked.

Turkey’s new wave of Arab visitors in part attribute their presence in the country down to the instability in their usual summer holiday destinations.

“We come here now because there is so much trouble in other Arab countries,” said Muhammad al-Menhali from Abu Dhabi, who was in Turkey for the first time with his wife Imad and baby son. “We usually go to Egypt, but we feel safer in Turkey.” In the Grand Bazaar in the historical Sultanahmet district of Istanbul, shopkeepers said they had noticed a significant increase in Arab tourists over the last year. “I like Turkey so much. The country feels familiar; I don’t feel like a stranger,” said Housiya al-Hamadi, strolling with six members of her family past market stalls offering hand-painted porcelain, silk scarves and touristic knick-knacks.

Simultaneously western European countries have become less appealing. “After Sept 11, visa requirements became much stricter, visas for the UK and other European countries are now very hard to get for us,” said Oussama Salaha, a Jordanian who is now living in Saudi Arabia. “Turkey is a Muslim country, we don’t need to worry about halal food, the culture is close to our own. Veiled women don’t face any issues in Turkey. Saudi tourists don’t go to France any more since the French government banned the face veil.”

— The Guardian, London

Opinion

Editorial

21 Jan, 2022

Emergency rumours

ISLAMABAD is once again in the grip of rumours. The latest issue finding traction revolves around a mysterious...
TTP attack
Updated 21 Jan, 2022

TTP attack

MONDAY night’s assault on a police party in Islamabad, which left one cop dead and two injured, marks a ...
21 Jan, 2022

Murree suspensions

ON Wednesday, the Met Office issued a red alert for more heavy snowfall in Murree over the coming weekend, and...
20 Jan, 2022

Too great a divide

THE government’s offer of talks to the opposition on electoral and judicial reforms is a welcome development in a...
Military inductees
Updated 20 Jan, 2022

Military inductees

Giving preference to military personnel for appointments in civilian roles is exposing them to unnecessary controversy.
20 Jan, 2022

Suu Kyi charges

MYANMAR’S ruling junta seems determined to spin a complicated legal web around Aung San Suu Kyi to ensure that the...