Russian invasion of Ukraine drives property boom in Turkey

Russian invasion of Ukraine drives property boom in Turkey
Russians looking to bypass Western sanctions and Ukrainians seeking to flee the war are driving a property boom in Turkey. (File/AFP)
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Updated 31 March 2022

Russian invasion of Ukraine drives property boom in Turkey

Russian invasion of Ukraine drives property boom in Turkey
  • Spike in interest from Russian, Ukrainian buyers has seen real estate prices treble
  • Increase in sales will help to offset loss of tourism revenue

ANKARA: Russians looking to bypass Western sanctions and Ukrainians seeking to flee the war are driving a property boom in Turkey, with prices in some areas more than trebling in recent weeks.

As part of the sanctions imposed on Russia, several banks in the country have been excluded from the SWIFT messaging system. Oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin have also been targeted.

But Ankara is not party to the Western financial sanctions and has not halted direct flights with Russia. That means Russians have the opportunity to build a new life in Turkey, and can take their cash, gold and cryptocurrencies with them.

After Iranians and Iraqis, Russians are the third-largest buyers of Turkish property. According to official figures, in February alone, they bought 509 houses, almost doubling the figure for the same period of last year. Ukrainians bought 111 properties in the month.

The spike in interest was noted by Turkish property website

“Searches by Russians rose by 61 percent compared to the previous month,” its CEO Tolga Idikat told Arab News.

“The highest number of property searches by Ukrainians occurred in February when the political crisis reached its peak. Their demand is mostly concentrated in the Mediterranean resort town of Antalya, while they prefer villas and single-family houses.”

The number of searches by Russians in March more than doubled year on year, while those made by Ukrainians rose by 30 percent, Idikat said.

The increase in demand has driven up prices by at least threefold and made them euro-denominated, while real estate agents are predicting a supply shortage in the months ahead, he added.

“The number of houses cannot match the demand, which increases day by day. The currency advantage that foreign investors have also pushes prices up,” Idikat said.

Unlike Russians, who mostly want to live in Turkey, Ukrainians are looking for short-term deals, usually for about three or four months, as they expect to return home after the war, he added.

Russians’ preferred destinations are Istanbul, Antalya, the western city of Izmir and the northwestern city of Bursa. They are looking for properties both to buy and rent.

Under Turkish law, Russians who buy a property worth $250,000 and keep it for at least three years are entitled to a Turkish passport. The slump in the value of the Turkish lira is also a draw for buyers.

There are currently about 30,000 Russians and 9,000 Ukrainians living in Antalya, mostly in Konyaalti and Manavgat districts.

In response to the spike in demand, several real estate websites, including Emlakjet, are now promoting their properties directly to Russian buyers.

“Although we haven’t yet offered a special content for Russian and Ukrainian house-seekers, some of our members have begun publishing notices in the Russian language,” Idikat said.

The housing spike is a boon for Turkey, which is set to lose out on tourism revenue as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Tourism accounts for about 3.8 percent of the country’s GDP, and more than a quarter of all visitors last year were from Russia and Ukraine — 4.7 million from the former and 2.1 million from the latter.

“Turkey is quite exposed to the economic shocks caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” Robert Mogielnicki, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told Arab News.

So a short-term boost to real estate markets could help to soften the economic blow, he said.

Lebanese woman set on fire by husband over unwanted pregnancy

Lebanese woman set on fire by husband over unwanted pregnancy
Updated 12 sec ago

Lebanese woman set on fire by husband over unwanted pregnancy

Lebanese woman set on fire by husband over unwanted pregnancy
  • Five-months pregnant woman loses fetus, and is “battling for her life”
  • Family friend: Situation “delicate and serious” with hospital bill at thousands of dollars

DUBAI: A Lebanese woman is battling for her life after being set on fire by her husband, who assaulted her over an undesired pregnancy amid Lebanon’s economic crisis.
Hana Mohammed Khodor, 21, was rushed to a hospital in Lebanon in critical condition, suffering full body burns, after her husband allegedly set her on fire using the house gas cylinder.
The husband, identified as A.A., was alleged to have beaten his five-months pregnant wife brutally and fought with her because she had refused to abort the baby, local media reported.
A.A. was said to have not wanted the child to avoid extra financial burdens, with he and his wife from poor backgrounds in the northern city of Tripoli.
When contacted by Arab News, a doctor from Al-Salam Hospital said Khodor was admitted on Aug. 6 “suffering of 100 percent body burns.”
The doctor said: “As we speak, she is battling for her life. She is between life and death in the intensive care unit. Hana was five months pregnant when the incident happened. The baby died and we had to operate on her to remove the fetus. Her chances of survival are very bleak.”
A medical report says her injuries are third-degree burns and that she is on life support. Attending doctors have waived their daily fees, which still leaves the impoverished Khodor family with a daily cost of $400, excluding treatments, operations and reconstructive surgeries.
According to Al-Salam Hospital’s medical report, if she survives, she will need three months of further treatment.
A family friend, Abdul Rahman Haddad, told Arab News that her situation is “too delicate and serious,” and her hospital bill is already in the thousands of dollars.
“She needs 15 blood platelets (transfusions) daily, and each costs $100, aside from the daily costs of the hospital bed, medical equipment and ICU treatment. Her family is extremely poor, and she is a young woman … they need any form of medical assistance,” said Haddad.
Lebanese Internal Security Forces arrested the husband, who had been planning to flee the country, Haddad said.
The victim’s aunt told a local TV station that A.A. beat his wife brutally to coerce her into aborting the fetus. “When she refused to abort the baby, he took her home and set her on fire using the gas cylinder,” she said.
Khodor’s father called on the public to visit the hospital and pay as much as they could afford to help treat and save his daughter’s life.
Doctor Gabriel Al-Sabe’e said Khodor undergoes several operations daily since she was admitted to hospital.
“She is on life support and gets resuscitated daily. Her situation is extremely critical due to the severity, and huge areas of her body that got burned,” he added.
Haddad added that the family took to social media to appeal to compassionate people and asked the public “to call on 009613143726 in case they wish to assist the family in covering the hospital bills.”

Qatar’s Lusail Stadium achieves five-star sustainability rating

Qatar’s Lusail Stadium achieves five-star sustainability rating
Updated 27 min 22 sec ago

Qatar’s Lusail Stadium achieves five-star sustainability rating

Qatar’s Lusail Stadium achieves five-star sustainability rating
  • Achieving a high rating is challenging, as it requires a project to adhere to environmental sustainability standards which include 50 sub-criteria.

DOHA: FIFA World Cup final venue Lusail Stadium has achieved a five-star rating under the Global Sustainability Assessment System, the Qatar News Agency reported.  

The rating system is administered by the Gulf Organisation for Research & Development.

The 80,000-person capacity venue has several environmentally friendly features, including water-saving systems.

The roof is made from PTFE, a material that protects the stadium from warm winds and keeps out dust. This sustainability feature allows enough light for the pitch to grow while providing shade to reduce the burden on the stadium's air conditioning.

Its design, inspired by the interplay of light and shadow, is based on the fanar lantern to depict the Arab and Islamic world's golden age of art and craftsmanship.

Lusail received a five-star GSAS Design & Build rating and a Class A* GSAS Construction Management rating.

The certificates were presented to executives from the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy at a special event on Monday.

They included deputy director general Ghanim Al-Kuwari, sustainability executive director Bodour Al-Meer, and sustainability communications manager Jassim Al-Jaidah.

“This recognition from GORD is an important part of our FIFA World Cup journey,” said Al-Kuwari. “Sustainability has been central to our plans from the start as we are determined to develop venues that boost local communities here in Qatar long after the tournament. We are very proud to receive these awards and pay tribute to everyone involved in the construction of Lusail Stadium, an incredible venue that will host the biggest international football match on the planet, the FIFA World Cup final later this year."

Al-Meer said achieving these ratings was a testament to the hard work of the project team to prioritize sustainability features from the design phase through to construction and operation.

“In addition to the roof, the project site has conserved 40 percent more water than conventional stadium developments thanks to efficient fixtures and leak detection systems,” he said.

GORD founding chairman Dr. Yousef Alhorr said Lusail Stadium had set a “new precedent” in environmental excellence, guided by the SC's sustainability strategy, by meeting the “exacting” GSAS standards.

“We congratulate the SC for advancing climate action by successfully translating green building principles into impactful practices. This is testament to the strong commitment to sustainability which has been apparent from before ground was broken at Lusail and other venues,” he said.

The chairman said Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup was a milestone as all of its stadiums would be designed, built, and operated in line with the highest sustainability standards, as well as obtaining a certificate from a neutral party to abide by these standards.

The two-stage process of obtaining sustainability certificates took time and effort, Alhorr said.

The first stage was the evaluation process, which included field visits throughout the project’s estimated seven to eight-year lifespan to ensure the building specifications aligned with the construction.

The second stage was the review of thousands of documents by the office to ensure the accuracy of the information and the credibility of adherence to the required standards.

Obtaining the highest classifications was challenging as it required the project to adhere to environmental sustainability standards which entailed 50 sub-criteria, Alhorr added.

The sub-criteria were organized into eight major axes: Energy efficiency, water consumption, environmentally friendly materials, location, urban communication, indoor and outdoor environment, and operating practices.

Lusail Stadium project manager Tamim Al-Abed said the stadium's receipt of two sustainability certificates confirmed the committee's efforts to implement World Cup projects sustainably, adding that Qatar had delivered on its promises to adhere to strict sustainability standards throughout all stages of stadium construction.

He said the most important criteria that contributed to Lusail Stadium receiving the certificates were the selection of building materials, operating equipment, and cooling devices in the stadium in an energy-efficient manner, transferring exports sustainably, and monitoring and controlling waste, electricity consumption, dust and noise during the construction period.

He also said the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 would be a green tournament because it considered sustainability requirements at all stages of project implementation, beginning with design and ending with project delivery and operation.

Lusail Stadium will host 10 matches, beginning with Argentina against Saudi Arabia on Nov. 22 and concluding with the final on Dec. 18, which is also Qatar National Day.

It will house several civic facilities for the local community after the tournaments.

Any seats removed from the venue could be donated to countries without adequate sporting infrastructure.

The eight stadiums hosting matches during the World Cup have also achieved a minimum four-star rating under GSAS.

EU, US say they’re studying Iran’s response to nuclear proposal

EU, US say they’re studying Iran’s response to nuclear proposal
Updated 16 August 2022

EU, US say they’re studying Iran’s response to nuclear proposal

EU, US say they’re studying Iran’s response to nuclear proposal
  • US State Department: US is sharing views on Iran’s response with EU after receiving Tehran’s comments from bloc

WASHINGTON: The European Union and United States said on Tuesday they were studying Iran’s response to what the EU has called its “final” proposal to save a 2015 nuclear deal after Tehran called on Washington to show flexibility.
A US State Department spokesperson said the United States was sharing its views on Iran’s response with the European Union after receiving Tehran’s comments from the bloc.
“For the moment, we are studying it and we are consulting with the other JCPOA participants and the US on the way forward,” an EU spokesperson told reporters in Brussels, referring to the nuclear deal by the official abbreviation JCPOA.
She declined to give a time frame for any reaction from the EU.
After 16 months of fitful, indirect US-Iranian talks, with the EU shuttling between the parties, a senior EU official said on Aug. 8 the bloc had laid down a “final” offer and expected a response within a “very, very few weeks.”
Iran responded to the proposal late on Monday but none of the parties provided any details.
Earlier on Monday, Iran’s foreign minister called on the US to show flexibility to resolve three remaining issues, suggesting Tehran’s response would not be a final acceptance or rejection.
Washington has said it is ready to quickly seal a deal to restore the 2015 accord on the basis of the EU proposals.
Diplomats and officials have told Reuters that whether or not Tehran and Washington accept the EU’s “final” offer, neither is likely to declare the pact dead because keeping it alive serves both sides’ interests.
The stakes are high, since failure in the nuclear negotiations would carry the risk of a fresh regional war, with Israel threatening military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.
Iran, which has long denied having such ambitions, has warned of a “crushing” response to any Israeli attack.
In 2018, then-President Donald Trump reneged on the nuclear deal reached before he took office, calling it too soft on Iran, and reimposed harsh US sanctions, spurring the Islamic Republic to begin breaching its limits on uranium enrichment.

34-year-old woman is Iran’s first monkeypox case

34-year-old woman is Iran’s first monkeypox case
Updated 26 min 57 sec ago

34-year-old woman is Iran’s first monkeypox case

34-year-old woman is Iran’s first monkeypox case

TEHRAN: Iranian authorities announced Tuesday the first case of monkeypox in the country, the official IRNA news agency reported.
The report said health authorities quarantined a 34-year-old woman living in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.
Pedram Pakaeen, health ministry spokesperson, said the patient and her family members informed doctors after she developed symptoms on the skin of her hands.
Monkeypox spreads when people have close, physical contact with an infected person’s lesions, their clothing or bedsheets. Sexual contact may amplify transmission.
Most people recover from monkeypox without needing treatment, but the lesions can be extremely painful. More severe cases can result in complications including brain inflammation and death.
Globally, there have been more than 31,000 cases of monkeypox reported in nearly 90 countries. Last month, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak to be a global emergency.
Monkeypox is not a totally new disease but one that has been known since at least the 1970s and has been a serious challenge in Africa for years.
With only a limited global supply of vaccines, authorities are racing to stop the spread of the disease.

Iraq’s Sadr backtracks on call for huge protest

Iraq’s Sadr backtracks on call for huge protest
Updated 16 August 2022

Iraq’s Sadr backtracks on call for huge protest

Iraq’s Sadr backtracks on call for huge protest
  • The populist cleric's announcement came amid behind the scenes talks aimed at steering Iraq out of crisis
  • Sadr wants parliament dissolved to pave the way for new legislative elections

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s firebrand Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr backtracked Tuesday after earlier urging his supporters to join a massive rally as a standoff with his political rivals appeared to be getting worse.
The populist cleric’s announcement came amid behind the scenes talks aimed at steering Iraq out of crisis, with the country’s two branches of Shiite Islam jockeying for supremacy.
More than 10 months on from elections, Iraq still has no government, new prime minister or new president, because of disagreement between factions over forming a coalition.
Sadr wants parliament dissolved to pave the way for new legislative elections, but his rivals the pro-Iran Coordination Framework want to set conditions and are demanding a transitional government before new polls.
The cleric’s bloc emerged from last October’s elections as parliament’s biggest, but still far short of a majority.
Sadr, whose supporters have been staging a sit-in protest outside parliament in Baghdad’s high security Green Zone for more than two weeks, had called for a “million-man demonstration” in the capital on Saturday.
But on Tuesday he announced on Twitter “the indefinite postponement of Saturday’s protest.”
“If you had been betting on a civil war, I am betting on preserving social peace. The blood of Iraqis is more precious than anything else,” Sadr said.
Late on Monday, a committee organizing demonstrations in support of the Coordination Framework also announced new gatherings, but without setting a date.
The Coordination Framework launched their own Baghdad sit-in on Friday, camping out on an avenue in the capital.
The Coordination Framework comprises former paramilitaries of the Tehran-backed Hashed Al-Shaabi network and the party of former premier Nuri Al-Maliki, a longtime Sadr foe.
So far, the rival Shiite protests have been peaceful, with attempts at mediation ongoing.
Hadi Al-Ameri, leader of a Hashed faction, has also called for calm and for dialogue. He has had a series of meetings with political leaders including allies of Sadr.
Also on Tuesday, Finance Minister Ali Allawi who is in the current government submitted his resignation to the Council of Ministers, the INA state news agency reported.
Iraq has been ravaged by decades of conflict and endemic corruption.
It is blighted by ailing infrastructure, power cuts and crumbling public services, and now also faces water shortages as drought ravages swathes of the country.
Despite its oil wealth, many Iraqis are mired in poverty, and some 35 percent of young people are unemployed, according to the United Nations.