Arabs enjoy night cruise tours on Istanbul’s Bosphorus
Tourists from Palestine, Bahrain and Kuwait are welcomed by entertainers at the door, while singers from Arab countries particularly Syria take the stage.
The boats serving the Arab cuisine and non-alcoholic beverages generally depart at 9 p.m. local time.
Popular Arabic songs, folk dances and plays are presented to the tourists in the three-hour tour.
The show ends with a drama play -- emphasizing Turkish-Arab friendship -- that depict the conflict in the Middle East -- the suffering and tears, and the desire for Muslims to live a life in peace.
‘‘We’ve been serving Arab tourists for four years … This year, the interest in boat trips have significantly increased, so we expect to have a better season next year,’’ Murat Çelen, a captain on the Bosphorus for eight years, told state-run Anadolu Agency.
Muhammed Rifai, a Syrian refugee in Turkey performing folk dances on the cruise tours, said, “I used to plan ceremonies and weddings in Damascus, similar to the entertainments on the boats.”
Rifai added: “The camel and Santa Claus figures on the deck draw attention. We use camels in Arabia, and we put a Santa Claus figure for our Christian guests to show that there is no difference between Muslim and Christian people.”
Muhammed Abdo, another Syrian refugee in Turkey, sings Arabic and Turkish songs and works as a waiter on the boat.
“I don’t earn much, but I can fulfill my needs,” Abdo said, thanking Turkish people and the government for being accepted into the country.
He added: “Turkey doesn’t only help Syria but also Palestine, Iraq and everywhere else.”