Power and beauty: Foreigners snap up Istanbul’s iconic waterfront mansions

Power and beauty: Foreigners snap up Istanbul’s iconic waterfront mansions
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Real-estate brokers in Istanbul said that out of around 600 waterside yalis along the Bosphorus, 60 were currently up for sale. (AFP)
Power and beauty: Foreigners snap up Istanbul’s iconic waterfront mansions
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Prospective buyers of the yalis are likely to be from the Middle East. (AFP)
Power and beauty: Foreigners snap up Istanbul’s iconic waterfront mansions
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Prospective new owners can expect to pay up to $100 million for one of the premium properties along the Bosphorus River coast on the Asian side of Istanbul. (AFP)
Updated 09 October 2018

Power and beauty: Foreigners snap up Istanbul’s iconic waterfront mansions

Power and beauty: Foreigners snap up Istanbul’s iconic waterfront mansions
  • Dozens of yalis are now up for sale as Turkey enters a more troubled economic period and owners seek to cash in their luxury assets
  • Prospective new owners can expect to pay up to $100 million for one of the premium properties

ISTANBUL: They are among Istanbul’s most iconic sights — magnificent waterside mansions strung out along the Bosphorus as the waters of the strait dividing Europe and Asia lap almost at their front doors.
Once the preserve of the Ottoman elite and affluent foreigners working in what was Constantinople, the mansions, known as yalis, were made famous in novels and more recently through modern Turkey’s hugely successful TV soap operas.
But dozens are now up for sale as Turkey enters a more troubled economic period and owners seek to cash in their luxury assets.
Prospective new owners can expect to pay up to $100 million for one of the premium properties — but have the chance of obtaining a Turkish passport thrown in.
With such a hefty asking price — as well as the opportunity of becoming a Turkish national — buyers are likely to be foreigners, heralding a drastic shake-up in the mansions’ ownership.
Real-estate brokers in Istanbul said that out of around 600 waterside yalis along the Bosphorus, 60 were currently up for sale.
The Turkish lira this summer plunged in value as markets reacted to a bitter spat with the United States and many buyers think now is the perfect time to snap up property assets while the currency is cheap.
Sales have to be in Turkish lira — President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has banned the sale, rent or leasing of property being conducted in, or indexed to foreign currencies.
Brokers say that in a major turnaround, prospective buyers are almost never Turkish and are likely to be from the Middle East, especially Ankara’s closest Gulf ally, Qatar.
“With the lira losing value, Istanbul has become a paradise for people from the Gulf with higher purchasing power in their hands,” Hamed Elhamian, sales director at ANKA Invest, said.
“Investors from the Gulf believe that the lira will rise in value in the near future and their investments will appreciate in a very short time,” he said.
Ugur Ayhan, a luxury real-estate consultant, also said foreign buyers had been showing greater interest in Turkey over recent months.
“Our potential clients are largely from Middle Eastern countries. We see people from Azerbaijan and Iran but we have a customer portfolio dominated by Qatar,” he said.
Along with the financial incentives, another attraction of buying a property is the possibility of gaining a Turkish passport, which offers eased or visa-free travel to key destinations.
Under a decree issued last month, Turkey made it easier for foreigners to become Turkish citizens by reducing the financial and investment criteria for citizenship.
Foreigners now need to have $500,000 deposited in Turkish banks — down from the previously required $3 million — while fixed capital investment was cut from $2 million to $500,000.
And crucially, individuals owning property worth $250,000 or more are now also entitled to become Turkish citizens, compared with the previous value necessary of $1 million.
Yet Ayhan said that, while the latest measures would ramp up demand for newly-built apartments in Istanbul, a yali was an ultra-luxury asset beyond the range of most buyers.
“It is not possible to buy a luxury apartment, let alone a yali with $250,000,” he said.
Among the hundreds of mansions along the two sides of the Bosphorus, 360 of them are of historic value, according to real-estate broker Pinar Ayikcan Tuna.
For the historic mansions, potential buyers need to receive permission from both the development directorate of the Bosphorus and the council of monuments for any renovations or to fortify a building’s exterior facade.
“Turkish laws require that historic buildings are renovated or restored according to the original,” Ayhan said.
Some of the mansions are still owned by members of the Turkish elite, including the two largest family conglomerates: Koc and Sabanci.
However, said Elhamian: “The domestic interest in the real estate is very low.”
“Many local Turkish citizens and developers are looking to sell their real estate to foreigners who are looking to buy luxury properties worth more than the $250,000 needed for citizenship.”
Turkish soap operas, often with dozens of episodes lasting two hours each, hold the Arab world in thrall and have also tempted potential buyers from the Middle East.
Many of the soaps, which range from modern romances to historic dramas, have evocative settings in waterside mansions on the Bosphorus. Tour companies in Istanbul even offer Arab tourists bus trips to the locations.
Interest surged in particular following the hit 2008-2010 series “Ask-i Memnu” (“Forbidden Love”), which ran to almost 80 episodes and was wildly popular in the Arab world.
Its dramatic scenes of love and betrayal within a rich Istanbul family — based on an over 100-year-old novel but updated to the present day — were filmed in a historic yali in the city’s Sariyer district.
“Those soap operas are actually our big advertisement overseas,” Tuna said.
“People from Middle Eastern countries come and buy these kinds of properties here because having a Bosphorus mansion in Istanbul is like a signature of power and it is a very unique beauty.”
Reha Grandjean, French-Turkish and family owner of a mansion on the Bosphorus, said to own such a place was special.
“It is a particular property because as soon as one of them is put on sale, everyone wants their ‘yali’, everyone wants their little paradise.”


NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill

NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill
Updated 11 min 57 sec ago

NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill

NADEC consortium submits bid for privatized Saudi flour mill
  • Saudi Arabia is accelerating plans to privatize key infrastructure in an effort to modernize the economy

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia's National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC) is part of a consortium that has bid for a privatized flour mill in the Kingdom.
It has teamed up with OLAM International Limited, Al Rajhi International for Investment and Abdulaziz Alajlan & Sons Company for Commercial and Real Estate Investment, to bid for one of two mills being privatized, the company said in a stock exchange filing.
The two mills are being offered for privatization by the Saudi Grains Organization.
NADEC said  it has agreed a "term sheet" relating to the creation of a limited liability company to acquire the mill should its bid be successful.
The potential acquisition would be financed through a combination of self-financing by the consortium members and borrowing from local banks, it said.
Saudi Arabia is accelerating plans to privatize key infrastructure in an effort to modernize the economy, speed major infrastructure works and develop its financial services sector.


Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020

Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020
Updated 36 min 30 sec ago

Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020

Dubai’s external food trade hit $14.2bn in 2020
  • The emirate imported foodstuff worth 34.7 billion dirhams

DUBAI: Dubai’s external food trade reached 52 billion dirhams ($14.2 billion) in 2020, according to government data.
The emirate imported foodstuff worth 34.7 billion dirhams, Dubai Customs manager Nassim Al-Mehairi said, while exports and re-exports were valued at 10 billion dirhams and 7.3 billion dirhams respectively.
Food security is a major issue in the UAE, which has been investing in technology that will reduce its reliance on importing key staples.
Dubai Customs has streamlined its processes to accelerate the clearance of foodstuff shipments to ensure they are delivered to markets on time, especially during Ramadan when consumption is high, Al-Mehairi said.


Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan

Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan
Updated 43 min 48 sec ago

Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan

Saudi Red Sea tourism plan to clinch a $3.7bn green loan
  • The Red Sea Development Co.’s SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) loan is set to close with a small group of local banks
  • The proceeds will be used to finance environmentally sustainable investment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is weeks away from clinching the first significant funding package for a key part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s program to diversify the Kingdom’s economy, Bloomberg reported.
The Red Sea Development Co.’s SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) loan is set to close with a small group of local banks including Saudi National Bank, Banque Saudi Fransi, Riyad Bank and Saudi British Bank, the newswire reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The deal to help fund the first phase of the development will be a so-called green loan. The proceeds will be used to finance environmentally sustainable investment, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. It will have a tenor of 15 years and an interest rate of about 1 percent above the Saudi interbank offered rate, they said.
The company first started approaching banks for the loan in mid-2019, Bloomberg said.
Opening to tourism is one of the ways Saudi Arabia intends to diversify the economy away from oil. Its other ambitious projects include an entertainment hub near the capital Riyadh, and the new NEOM city in the north-west, which is expected to cost $500 billion to build.
The Red Sea Development, owned by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund, will oversee a luxury tourism zone equivalent in size to Belgium. When the entire project is completed in 2030, it will target 1 million visitors a year, split evenly between domestic and international tourists.
Construction of a new international airport for the area has begun, and the first phase of the project is due to be completed with the opening of four hotels at the end of 2022.
12 more hotels will be open the following year, Chief Executive Officer John Pagano said in an interview in November.


IEA issues ‘dire warning’ on CO2 emissions as it predicts 5% rise

IEA issues ‘dire warning’ on CO2 emissions as it predicts 5% rise
Updated 20 April 2021

IEA issues ‘dire warning’ on CO2 emissions as it predicts 5% rise

IEA issues ‘dire warning’ on CO2 emissions as it predicts 5% rise
  • This year’s rise will likely be driven by a resurgence in coal
  • Global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6 percent in 2021

LONDON: Global CO2 emissions from energy are seen rising nearly 5 percent this year, suggesting the economic rebound from COVID-19 could be “anything but sustainable” for the climate, the International Energy Agency said on Tuesday.
The IEA’s Global Energy Review 2021 predicted carbon dioxide emissions would rise to 33 billion tons this year, up 1.5 billion tons from 2020 levels in the largest single increase in more than a decade.
“This is a dire warning that the economic recovery from the COVID crisis is currently anything but sustainable for our climate,” IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.
This year’s rise will likely be driven by a resurgence in coal use in the power sector, Birol added, which the report forecast to be particularly strong in Asia.
It should also put pressure on governments to act on climate change. US President Joe Biden will hold a virtual summit for dozens of world leaders this week to discuss the issue ahead of global talks in Scotland later this year. Last year, when power use dropped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, energy-related CO2 emissions fell by 5.8 percent to 31.5 billion tons, after peaking in 2019 at 33.4 billion tons.
The IEA’s annual review analyzed the latest national data from around the world, economic growth trends and new energy projects that are set to come online.
Global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6 percent in 2021, led by developing economies, pushing it above 2019 levels, the report said.
Demand for all fossil fuels is on course to grow in 2021, with both coal and gas set to rise above 2019 levels.
The expected rise in coal use dwarves that of renewables by almost 60 percent, despite accelerating demand for solar, wind and hydro power. More than 80 percent of the projected growth in coal demand in 2021 is set to come from Asia, led by China.
Coal use in the United States and the European Union is also on course to increase but will remain well below pre-crisis levels, the IEA said.


Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month

Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month
Updated 20 April 2021

Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month

Saudi Arabia is China's top oil supplier for seventh straight month
  • Shipments from UAE and Oman surge
  • Some Iranian barrels believed to have slipped in

BEIJING: China’s crude oil imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia rose 8.8 percent in March from a year earlier, driven by strong demand and as shipments delayed due to a port congestion finally arrived.
Imports from the United Arab Emirates also rose again, up 86 percent, as some Iranian barrels were believed to have slipped in. Shipments from Saudi Arabia were 7.84 million tons, equivalent to 1.85 million barrels per day (bpd), data issued by China’s General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.
That was higher than 1.7 million bpd a year earlier, but below imports of 1.94 million bpd in February. Saudi Arabia retained its position as China’s biggest crude oil supplier for a seventh consecutive month. Ports at China’s oil refining hub Shandong experienced congestion for a few weeks over January and February, slowing oil arrivals. China’s crude oil imports from Russia rose 6 percent in March to 1.75 million bpd from a year ago, but slipped from 1.91 million bpd in February. Analysts from Refinitiv expect arrivals from Saudi Arabia to further drop in April given a voluntary supply cut of 1 million bpd by the producer and increasing prices of Arab light crude for the Asian market.
Appetite of spot oil would turn to more price competitive African sources, with China’s imports from Angola at 0.74 million bpd in March, versus 0.73 mln bpd a month ago. The customs data also showed that crude oil supplies from Kuwait increased to 0.6 million bpd, up 29 percent from a year earlier. China’s imports from the UAE were at 0.71 million bpd last month, up 86 percent on year. Shipments from Oman rose 60 percent from a year ago to 0.86 million bpd.