Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Saudi Arabia to start a three-nation Gulf tour as he seeks to attract foreign investment to his country’s ailing economy.
Erdogan arrived in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on Monday to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, before traveling to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar later this week.
The Saudi state-run Al-Ekhbariya TV broadcast footage of the Turkish president appearing at a Saudi-Turkish business forum.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in the Saudi city of Jeddah on the first leg of his trip to the Gulf. pic.twitter.com/95RBYTEpJD
Communications Directorate of the Republic of Türkiye July 17, 2023
Similar business forums are planned during his trips to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
“During our visits, our main program will be joint investment and business activities with these countries in the coming period,” Erdogan said before leaving Istanbul.
He said that bilateral trade with Gulf countries has grown from $1.6 billion to about $22 billion over the past 20 years.
“By organizing business forums, we will look for ways to push this number much further,” Erdogan said.
This is his second visit to Saudi Arabia since the rapprochement. Relations between the two countries were strained due to the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 by Saudi agents in the Kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
Turkey angered Saudi Arabia by vigorously pursuing the case at the time, opening an investigation, and international media published gory details of the murder.
But as relations improved, Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia in April 2022 and Prince Mohammed visited Turkey in June last year.
In March, Saudi Arabia deposited $5 billion in the Turkish Central Bank.
Erdogan’s latest trip to Saudi Arabia comes as Turkey grapples with a currency crash and high inflation that has hurt its economy.
Erdogan’s Gulf tour comes after he was re-elected in May to another five-year term.
“Erdogan’s visit to the Gulf after the crucial elections that took place in Turkey itself reflects the importance of the Gulf countries in the Turkish foreign policy agenda,” Sinem Cengiz, a researcher at Qatar University, told Agence France-Presse.
“The growing Gulf interest in investing in various sectors is a push for Turkey, which is trying to increase its exports to help alleviate its economic problems,” said the expert on Gulf-Turkish relations.
“strong relationship indicator”
Speaking about Erdogan’s visit to Doha, Qatar’s ambassador to Turkey said that the visit “will enhance cooperation.”
“This visit is an important indication of the strong relations between Turkey and Qatar,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Nasser bin Jassim Al Thani told the Turkish Anadolu Agency, prior to his visit to Qatar.
Bin Nasser said that the agenda of Erdogan’s visit to Doha will include expanding investment between the two countries.