Turkey to exempt 50 countries from visa restrictions


Published — Saturday 8 December 2012

Last update 7 December 2012 11:48 pm

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Turkey is planning to exempt 50 countries from visa entry, which is already applied to many Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, as part of the government’s ambitious policy to open Turkey to the Islamic world.
Kamil Eren, Turkish businessman and former chairman of the Saudi-Turkish Business Council, disclosed this to Arab News. He said Turkey has one of the highest growing economies in the World and would like to leverage its strength on the model of Davos.
Eren, who is also on the executive committee of the Bosphorus Summit, said Turkey will set up an alternative to Davos economic summit. The Bosphorus Summit will be held in Turkey within a few weeks and some 2,000 people will participate, including the Saudi minister of agriculture.
Eren, who owns companies that employ Saudis said the Turkish economy ranks 15th now in the world.
For this reason Turkey will open up to all Islamic countries and to this region by waiving the visa requirement for many countries such as Jordan, Libya and Lebanon and Russia.
This will also boost tourism since there are many flights from Atatürk Airport. Istanbul is also connected to more than 90 countries and 200 cities and lies at the center of Asia. Europe and Africa. Istanbul is the most attractive city with historical sites, Bosphorus, amusement parks, landscape, hotels, and restaurants. Istanbul has the best hospitals in the region specialized in every field.
Istanbul has over 50 universities (Istanbul Technical University, Bosphorus University, Istanbul University, etc.). More than 10 million tourists visit Istanbul every year.
The reason for the shift in emphasis on the Gulf region is that this region is strong economically with almost $ 2 trillion floating in its economy.
Eren said Turkey is strong in engineering with the second fastest growing economy last year in the world.
“Our exports in 1990 were $ 2 billion and now more that $ 150 billion in 2012. Seventy percent are industrial products like Turkish TV sets (and) in Europe (it) is almost 80 percent.
Eren attributed Turkey’s progress to the progressive policy of the late President Turgut Ozal, who was like Mohamed Mahather of Malaysia. It was Ozal who opened Turkey up for private enterprises.
Eren observed: “Now imagine 70 percent of Turkish is foreign and only 20 percent are coming from Islamic country that means we are not doing our home work very well. It was very easy to blame others until this government came because earlier Turkish government looked at Arab countries as second-class states. But now with Islamic government in power, things are changing. And now we are considering them as guests and so on. The government has said these people should invest here and should not need any visa to come here. Like Saudis when they go there, at the airport they can get visa in less than one minute.”
He said they are also doing the same for another 50 countries, which don’t need visas, like for the Japanese. Three months ago the government said some friendly countries can buy properties in Turkey without any restriction.
“Let us open our door now for land development, real estate projects and other investment projects such as agriculture. A Saudi Ministry of Agriculture delegation will be traveling to Turkey this coming week,” he said.
He said Bosphorus Summit will be an alternative to Davos where 2,000 people are expected to participate.
“So we are trying to boost this cooperation. We want to see these people investing and burying properties in our country. I used to be the chairman of the Saudi-Turkish Business Council, so I know the environment. We have good network and we can have cooperation for land development and real estates,” he said. “Together with our good friends in Turkey and five partners we established a company called Amlak Concept,” said Eren.
This explains why Istanbul was selected last year as the most attractive destination for overseas investors. Istanbul is very attractive in terms of prices compared to Europe and almost 50 percent cheaper than Europe. So investors compare it with Paris, Amsterdam, London and Zurich.
He said his company, Amlak Concept, was “established for two main activities, one of them for land development from scratch until we finish the project on a turn-key basis. And there are over a 100 million projects. And the other one is just marketing and selling our services plus very reliable service project in Turkey."
He said Emlak Concept works with developers, contractors, property owners and/or public agencies to establish the value of real estate assets, identify competitive market factors, conduct location analyzes, evaluate the financial feasibility of projects and devise action plans to facilitate timely implementation of projects or investment programs.
Emlak Concept keeps abreast of changing trends and anticipates the effect of economic, market, social and governmental changes on real estate investment ideas and decisions. It recommends actions and helps clients work within the context of changing trends.
Emlak Concept provides real estate development consultancy and asset management services. Owners are experienced and dedicated in real estate development services. The real estate market is booming in Turkey. Market volume is expected to reach $ 69.8 billion by the end of December. A large segment of market is still untapped.
“We provide top-quality real estate development, advisory services and/or asset management services for residents and non-residents in Turkey,” he said. “We are bringing creative solutions tailored to unique characteristics of each of our partners, evaluating real estate development needs in depth, knowledge of market trends, realistic assessment of a project’s physical market, financial and political feasibility and an understanding of investment risks and rewards. We also analyze each project comprehensively to maximize the profitability of our investors.”
Eren said he started working at the Middle East Technical University, Civil Engineering Department between 1980 and 1985 after completing his doctorate in the United States.
In 1985, he went to Germany as Humboldt Scholarship holder and worked as the United Nations Expert for eight years. Between 1996 and 1997, he had been the Head Counselor of the Prime Minister in Turkey. He established JeoTek Company Group in 1998, which is giving cartography, IT, IS and planning services in Turkey, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Libya. He now gives lectures at Istanbul Kültür Üniversity Civil Engineering Department.
He said Turkey has convertible currency (Turkish lira) and foreign management is allowed in the country. Further, tariff and non-tariff trade barriers have been lowered to match EU standards. Other incentives for investors are: Customs Union with EU, huge domestic market with 70+ million people.
The country has a young and dynamic population with 70 percent under the age of 35. “We have a highly competitive labor force with proven skills, learning capacity and quality (winner of 1996-97-98, 2000 and 2008 European Quality Awards).
Istanbul was also chosen as the top real estate development market by Urban Land Institute/Price Water House Coopers.
Additionally, Turkey has a booming tourism business. Tourist arrivals stood at 31,456,076 in 2011 compared to 2000 when the country had received 10,428,153 tourists.
He noted Turkey’s climate is a determining factor in the size of a second home market?
“Accessibility is an important facet of second homes,” he said.
He referred to his partner Türel whom he described as an experienced project manager, developer and project adviser with more than 25 years relevant experience.
Currently Türel is responsible for Real Estate Development and new projects’ development such as solar power plants and other solar systems in Turkey at Kointas Construction and Investment Co.
Another partner, Yasin Pektas, graduated from Yıldız Technical University Topographical Engineering Faculty in 1994. Between 1996 and 1997 he had been a counselor at the prime minister's office. He also had been regional assistant manager in Istanbul at the Land Registry Head Office.
Murat Atakan, has more than 16 years’ experience as a construction supervisor, site manager and coordinator. Born in Batman in 1971, Atakan is a graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at Istanbul Technical University.
Muammer Koca, has graduated from Industrial Engineering Faculty in 2004 and received his master’s degree from Virginia Marymount University, in business administration and finance. After working in a brokerage house for a short time, he joined Kointas in 2008. Today, he is the financial coordinator of the group companies.
The company is located on Basın Express Road within the Küçükçekmece District, at the western part of Istanbul, the main road connecting the busy Atatürk Airport to the downtown. It takes only 10 minute driving to the Atatürk Airport. The area is transforming from industrial to high end office, residential and hotel area. Having a direct access to the side road of Basın Express, the site has a very good access and visibility.
The total net area of the property is around 5,545.45 square meters.

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