End of the ‘Dream of Phaselis’ in Antalya

End of the ‘Dream of Phaselis’ in Antalya

The best news in recent days is this: One of the most important port cities of the ancient era, Phaselis in Antalya, has finally been saved with its ruins dating back to the seventh century B.C. together with its endemic plants, whose names are mentioned in mythology. A holiday village project planned for right next to the ancient city with six tennis courts, three swimming pools and 280 rooms has been canceled.
I wholeheartedly congratulate the Antalya Regional Council for the Protection of Cultural Heritage which made the decision. But the real applause goes to the Phaselis Initiative that succeeded in collecting nearly 95,000 signatures at change.org. 

The members of the platform made up of several professional chambers, nongovernmental organizations and Antalya residents sensitive to history and the environment did not stop at filing a court case to cancel the protect; they also documented the ancient ruins on the land planned for the construction. 

They stood guard day and night protecting the trees around the city from being cut.  

The businessperson who had to give up the project “Dream of Phaselis” is Fettah Tamince, the owner of Rixos Hotels, which now number 26 in 10 countries, as well as the owner of Sembol Construction.

One of the most well-known hotels in Davos, the inescapable center of the World Economic Forum, the Flüela was added to the Rixos portfolio a couple of years ago.

Tamince started his business life in Antalya selling rugs at the store of a relative from Van, an eastern province. He went into the jewelry sector from rugs, then from there to tourism and construction. In his 40s, Tamince has gone from being a salesperson of rugs to becoming the boss of Rixos Hotels, where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his family have spent their holidays. 

In the economy pages of the newspapers, Tamince said, from the beginning, “My idol is Fethullah Gülen.” He never hid that he was one of the closest businesspersons to Fethullah Gülen. 

However, when the tide went out, Tamince had to declare last May that he had totally ended his relationship with Gülen when the former was charged with forming and managing a terror organization within the scope of the parallel structure investigation. This was because Tamince’s name was mentioned in one of the cases against Gülen.    

After Tamince’s Dream of Phaselis project was canceled, eyes have now been turned to his project on the Golden Horn in Istanbul. The shipyard on the inlet has a history that dates back to the days of Mehmet the Conqueror. 

Two years ago, Tamince won the Golden Horn shipyard tender for $1.4 billion. He is planning to build two marinas, two five-star hotels, shops, residences and entertainment facilities. 

Four chambers of the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) sued Tamince’s project on the grounds that Istanbul’s 600 years of industrial heritage had been offered for sale at an “undeserved” profit. 

In an interview about two years ago, Tamince told me that he “has to make a project in harmony with the city’s texture.” Tamince may face the cancelation of his Golden Horn project after the cancelation of the Dream of Phaselis. 

Tamince was able to find ways to defeat four different regulations protecting the land for the Dream of Phaselis (measures concerning first-degree archaeological protected areas, first-degree natural protected areas, national park areas and forested areas) but since he is not so powerful anymore, he may be saying goodbye to the Golden Horn dream as well. 

Just as the ancient city of Phaselis won, Istanbul’s six-century-old shipyard might also win.