The chairman of the Arab-Turkish Businessmen's Association (ARTIAD), Cemalettin Kerim, said that they expect 3.5 million Arab tourists to come to Turkey in 2017, noting that while an average Western family spends $700 during their stay in Turkey, an Arab family spends $3,000.
Kerim told Anadolu Agency (AA) that 7 million Arab tourists arrived in Turkey in the last three years and Arabs are now very familiar with Turkey.
Explaining that Arab countries closely follow Turkey due to Turkish TV series and high-level visits as well as the umrah pilgrimage, Jerusalem visits and business relations, Kerim said: "the Turkish government also made a good decision by increasing the number of foreign trade attachés and consulates. For example, this figure increased 100 percent in 10 years and the necessary incentives were made for them to prefer Turkey."
He also pointed out that procurement delegations are often brought to Turkey and fairs are organized, adding that there are good projects in progress. "Continuous advertisements due to sponsorship of Turkish Airlines [THY] along with the high number of flights is a very important factor. In the past, there was neither such project nor the opportunity. As long as the manager is honest and smart, the world is conquered," he said. "Fortunately, there are direct flights everywhere. This also supports relations. No matter what happens now, the Arab world supports Turkey."
Kerim said that since incentives such as the value-added tax (VAT) exemption and the granting of citizenship to investors, Arabs have bought thousands of residences in Turkey and relations have deepened to the point where they have almost become relatives.
Kerim said that very renowned investors have brought their money to Turkey, citing that Yemen's sector giant al-Ahmar has now settled in Turkey and is making investments in the country. He also highlighted that the route of major businesses such as al-Emaar from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), al-Zamil from Saudi Arabia and Retaj from Qatar is now in Turkey.
He said that the direct investment from Arab countries in the world stood at $1.4 trillion in 2015, and that this figure is expected to reach $1.7 trillion in 2017. Citing oil statistics - the world's largest crude oil producer is now Saudi Arabia, which produces 12 million barrels of crude oil per day, Kuwait produces 3.5 million barrels, the UAE 3 million to 3.5 million and Iraq 5 million - he said: "We can extend this to other countries. Arab countries produce 25 million barrels of oil alone per day. The most important feature of these countries is their oil production." He said that Qatar, which is currently on top of the world's agenda, leads the way in the production of liquefied natural gas (LNG) at 30 percent of global consumption, and Qatar takes it on alone. "Qatar has a foreign trade volume of $89 billion, but we can see that the potential in Arab countries and the volume of their investment in the world are incomplete in comparison to Turkey," he said.
Kerim explained that Arabs began their investments in Turkey in the real estate sector, but now they are directing their investors to new fields, recalling that 38 percent of the capital came from Arab countries between 2007 and 2016.