Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lauded his country’s investment advantages to business people in the United Arab Emirates as the two countries seek to build economic bridges after years of animosity.
“Our mutual goal is to carry our bilateral relations to much higher levels in all areas,” he told a business event on Tuesday. “Turkey provides very important advantages for investors looking for alternatives to Asia-centred production areas.”
Erdogan, visiting for the first time since 2013, received a grand reception upon his arrival on Monday. UAE’s de facto ruler Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met him on arrival and the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, projected Turkey’s flag.
The move to rein in a bitter rivalry came after Ankara launched a charm offensive last year as it battles economic turmoil and as Abu Dhabi turns towards soft power politics.
Erdogan said the UAE is Turkey’s prominent trade partner in the Gulf region, and trade volume and buoyancy in private sector partnership were maintained even during a period of tense relations.
“I believe that we will make significant progress in a short time,” he said. “The UAE offers financial support and favourable investment opportunities to high-tech companies and startups. Turkey, with its dynamic and young population, is leading new global initiatives that develop advanced technology.”
On Monday, the UAE and Turkey signed a joint statement on starting negotiations for a bilateral trade and investment deal as well as several agreements, including on defence, according to state media. This follows investment accords worth $10bn signed when Sheikh Mohammed visited Turkey last November.
As the region’s trade and tourism hub, the UAE has said it wants to manage long-running differences with Turkey and Iran as it doubles down on economic growth after the pandemic.
“The UAE sees economic and developmental cooperation … as a key tool in wisely managing various issues to rid our region of continuous escalation,” Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE president, said in a Twitter post on Erdogan’s visit to the country.
Erdogan will visit the Turkish pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai, where Turkey’s National Day will be celebrated and is set to meet the city’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
The rift stems from the Arab Spring uprisings, when Turkey backed the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist allies challenging entrenched autocrats from Tunisia to Syria – alarming the UAE’s dynastic rulers, who see the Brotherhood as a political and security threat.