Wealthy Arabs have a richly deserved reputation for owning some of the most expensive properties in Europe, whether in Paris, London or Madrid. What’s interesting is that with the rise of Turkey as a regional power, an increasing number of Arabs are buying Turkey properties for sale.
Turkey is very keen to get more foreign investment in its property market and to build itself up as an attractive destination for both foreign tourists as well as investors. Turkey is already one of the most visited countries in the world, attracted 34 million tourists in 2014. Indeed, to encourage Arabs to invest in Turkish property, many Turkish developers have opened offices in the Middle East and have stepped up their marketing efforts in a big way.
Turkey has a fast growing economy and a robust democracy. Arabs have always been interested in Turkey because of the similarities in culture and a common religion – Islam. Turkish TV shows are hugely popular in the Middle East, even more popular than American or British TV. Turkey is considered to be “cool” in the Middle East, and yet familiar because of its status as a majority Muslim nation.
Arabs have always loved visiting Turkey as tourists with their families, and today, are among the biggest buyers of Turkish properties, along with Germans, Britons and Russians. The most popular Turkish properties are beachfront properties in Alanya, Fethiye, Kemer and Bodrum.
Istanbul gets the bulk of Arab property buyers in Turkey with chic Istanbul neighbourhoods such as Vanikoy, Kandilli, Bebek, Kanlica, Beylerbeyi, Yenikoy being the most popular destinations. Arabs also own a plenty of luxury villas around the Sapanca Lake and Kartepe. The city of Bursa is quite popular as well, because of its history and lovely natural surroundings. In fact, the whole province of Trabzon is doing well as a destination for foreign investor because of its vast Black Sea coast.
So where are the Arab buyers coming from? Saudi Arabia has the most number of people buying property in Turkey, and is closely followed by Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.
The Turkish government is very keen on attracting moneyed foreigners to its shores. Buying real estate in Turkey was practically impossible for foreigners in the past. But this changed with new regulations such as a bill introduced in 2012 in the Turkish parliament the removed the condition of reciprocity when it came to the enforcement of property rights for foreigners hoping to invest in Turkish real estate.
The government has also removed the restrictions on selling real estate to foreign individuals and multinational companies. Another positive step has been to extend the duration of tourist visas, reduce the red tape on granting residency permits to stay in Turkey.
However, when it comes to Arabs buying properties in Turkey some serious issues still remain unresolved. Turkey, for example, does not allow polygamy and is a secular state, despite being a Muslim majority country. So, there are many in Turkey who don’t appreciate the Arabs bringing more than one wife to their country. The Turkish government still hasn’t resolved the issue of granting residency permits to the second, third and fourth wives of Arabs nationals buying real estate in Turkey. This has led to a plenty of backlash from the Turkish public.
Indeed, according to a survey done by a Turkish agency, 61% of those polled opposed granting residency permits to foreigners, while only 27% were in favour. Some progressive politicians have tried their best to convince the public about how foreigners “would contribute to the Turkish economy by bringing business opportunities with them,” but this is yet a work in progress. Certainly, this hasn’t stopped wealthy Arabs from buying properties in Turkey.