Erdogan landed in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on Monday to meet King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto ruler, before heading for the United Arab Emirates and Qatar later this week.
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Saudi Arabia’s state-run Al Ekhbariya TV aired footage of the Turkish president appearing at a Saudi-Turkish business forum.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has arrived in the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, first stop of his trip to the Gulf. pic.twitter.com/95RBYTEpJD
— Republic of Türkiye Directorate of Communications (@Communications) July 17, 2023
Similar business forums are planned for his trips to the UAE and Qatar.
“During our visits, our primary agenda will be joint investment and commercial activities with these countries in the upcoming period,” Erdogan said before leaving Istanbul.
He said two-way trade with Gulf countries has shot up from $1.6bn to about $22bn over the past 20 years.
“With the business forums to be organised, we will look for ways to move this figure much further,” Erdogan said.
The visit is his second to Saudi Arabia since a rapprochement. Ties between the two countries were strained by the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate.
Turkey angered Saudi Arabia by vigorously pursuing the case at the time, opening an investigation and briefing international media on the gory details of the killing.
But with ties on the mend, Erdogan visited Saudi Arabia in April 2022, and Prince Mohammed travelled to Turkey in June last year.
In March, Saudi Arabia deposited $5bn into Turkey’s central bank.
Erdogan’s latest Saudi trip comes as Turkey battles a currency collapse and soaring inflation, which have battered its economy.
Erdogan’s Gulf tour follows his re-election in May for another five-year term.
“Erdogan’s visit to the Gulf after the critical elections held in Turkey itself reflects the importance of the Gulf states in the Turkish foreign policy agenda,” Sinem Cengiz, a researcher at Qatar University, told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
“Growing Gulf interest in investing in diverse sectors is a boost for Turkey, which is trying to increase exports to help ease its economic problems,” the expert on Gulf-Turkish relations said.
‘Indicator of solid relations’
Speaking about Erdogan’s visit to Doha, Qatar’s ambassador to Turkey said the trip would “boost cooperation”.
“This visit is an important indicator of the solid relations that bind Turkey and Qatar,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Nasser bin Jassim Al-Thani told Turkey’s Anadolu Agency ahead of the visit to Qatar.
Bin Nasser said the agenda for Erdogan’s visit to Doha would include expanding investments between the two countries.