Erdogan slams Western media over negative economy coverage

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan singled out The Financial Times in his remarks. (File/AFP)
Updated 18 April 2019

Erdogan slams Western media over negative economy coverage

  • Turkey’s economy has slipped into its first recession in a decade after a currency crisis last year battered the lira
  • The Turkish leader has in the past attacked Western media coverage on the country’s economy

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday criticized Western media coverage of the country’s economy after a Financial Times report questioned the central bank’s management of foreign currency reserves.
Turkey’s economy has slipped into its first recession in a decade after a currency crisis last year battered the lira, leaving foreign investors jittery over the government’s policies to manage growth.
The Financial Times on Wednesday reported that the central bank had bolstered its foreign reserves with short-term lending in what analysts worried was a way to overstate its buffer against any new lira crisis.
Last month, the lira fell nearly six percent in one day because of investor concerns over foreign reserves as well as worries the government had turned to unorthodox ways to shore up the currency before March 31 elections.
“Unfortunately, some quarters in the West, using all their media tools, are trying to say our economy has collapsed,” Erdogan told a business forum.
“Let them write what they want, write the headlines they want. The Financial Times writes some things. But the situation in my country is clear.”
The Turkish leader has in the past attacked Western media coverage on the country’s economy. Last month, he blamed currency fluctuations on a Western plot led by the United States to weaken Turkey.
The lira was down almost 1.5 percent against the dollar in Thursday afternoon trading.
The Financial Times story said it had calculated Turkey’s foreign reserves were much lower than the $28.1 billion officially reported in April if the short-term borrowing was stripped out of the calculation.
In a response to the FT, the central bank acknowledged short-term operations may impact reserve figures, though it said its accounting was in compliance with international standards.
But some analysts told the FT they were worried about unorthodox methods and transparency.
The weakening economy was part of the reason Erdogan’s AKP lost Ankara and Istanbul in last month’s local election, in what was a stinging rebuke to the ruling party after more than a decade and a half in power.
After a trade dispute with the US last year, Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey and tariffs on some Turkish goods, leading to a 30 percent slide in the lira’s value.


Arab films set for Red Sea Film Festival screening

Updated 24 February 2020

Arab films set for Red Sea Film Festival screening

  • MBC Group to support young film makers with training from industry professionals

LONDON: Young Arab film makers will have the opportunity to have their work showcased at next month’s Red Sea International Film Festival as investment in Saudi cinema gathers pace.

The Red Sea International Film Festival has announced a partnership with MBC Group, which will also broadcast the event’s opening ceremony on March 12.

As part of the deal, MBC Al Amal, MBC’s corporate social responsibility arm, will hold a Shorts pitch competition.

Ten short film projects will be selected from Saudi Arabia and the MENA region, with filmmakers being given a one-day workshop to prepare for a pitching session. 

Italian director and producer Stefano Tealdi will train the candidates to strengthen their skills and give them tips for better pitches, MBC said.

“We strongly believe that this new generation of talent is key in influencing change and creating the difference to the region’s media and entertainment content landscape, which of course includes independent film and mainstream cinema,” said Peter Smith, managing director of MBC Studios.

The region’s biggest broadcaster will also host talent days on March 17 and 18 to support Saudi scriptwriters, directors and producers.

The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival takes place March 12-21 in Jeddah Old Town, under the theme “Changing the Script.” It aims to support and help grow Saudi Arabia’s emerging film industry which is attracting a slew of investment from homegrown dramas shot in the Kingdom to the construction of cinemas countrywide.

Real estate broker CBRE estimates that 45 new cinemas are expected to open this year.

The boom in cinema construction coincides with a push to develop the domestic Saudi film industry.

That is being driven by both the big and small screen as video-on-demand players that include MBC, Netflix and Amazon compete to deliver content that speaks to a young Arab audience.