Turkey looks set to work with the Sudanese government to restore the famous Suakin Island and turn it into a tourist attraction.
During President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recent visit to Sudan, Turkey was assigned the renovation work for the island, located in the northeast of Sudan.
Turkish Ambassador in Khartoum, İrfan Neziroğlu said Turkey wants to rejuvenate the ancient port to make it a major tourism center.
Evaluating President Erdoğan's visit to Sudan, the ambassador said President Erdoğan was given a warm welcome by the Sudanese people and the world closely followed the president's three-day stay in the country.
In terms of bilateral economic ties, Neziroğlu said Sudan offered Turkey a number of investment opportunities in different areas, particularly in agriculture and livestock.
He added that the president's visit has stirred Turkish businessmen's interest in Sudan and investing in the country.
"In a speech, during his visit, President Erdoğan said that Turkey would like to restore the ruins in Suakin Island and the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir agreed. Hopefully, the island will return to its past glory but as a major tourism center," Neziroğlu said.
The ambassador said that he has already had meetings with a couple of Turkish tourism companies and suggested an alternative route for the pilgrimage to Mecca, passing through Sudan.
"With this alternative route, our citizens will fly to Khartoum from Istanbul and have an opportunity to better know our history in the country," he said.
"After spending a couple of days in Khartoum, the pilgrims will travel to Suakin and then to Saudi Arabia on ships."
Located on the west coast of the Red Sea, the island is only 261 nautical miles away from Jeddah, the second largest city in Saudi Arabia.
Until the 19th century, Suakin was the residential address of the Ottoman Empire's Habesh Eyalet, which encompasses today's Eritrea, Djibouti and northern Somalia.
Ottomans used the port city to protect the Hejaz province, present-day western Saudi Arabia, from attacks on the Red Sea front.
Suakin Island became part of Sudan after it gained independence from the British-Egyptian government in 1956.
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