Turkey forges ahead with trade deals in Middle East

Turkey forges ahead with trade deals in Middle East

RAS AL-KHAIMA – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey forges ahead with trade deals in Middle East

Turkish Economy Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Bülent Uğur Ecevit (L) and the Ras al Khaimah Trade Zone’s Managing Director, Ahmad Saqer Mohamed Al Qasemi, shake hands after signing a trade agreement. Company photo

Turkish officials paid a visit to the commercial-haven, the United Arab Emirates, last week to sign a trade agreement with the fast-rising Ras al Khaimah Free Trade Zone in a move that showed the country to be nowhere near slowing down its increasing efforts in relations with Middle Eastern players.

Turkish Economy Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Bülent Uğur Ecevit joined forces with the Ras al Khaimah Trade Zone’s Managing Director, Ahmad Saqer Mohamed Al Qasemi, last week in a ceremony in which both sides penned their commitment to a Memorandum of Understanding. The signing of the memorandum was part of the visit of a high-level delegation from Turkey, which included top representatives from Turkish Free Zones and Overseas Investments, Mersin Free Zone, Ataturk Airport Free Zone, and a group of Turkish journalists.

The agreement can be seen as part of Turkey’s continuing efforts to turn regional opportunities into financial gains, which has been on a fast roll since the Justice and Development party’s (AKP) profound redirection of the country’s economic ambitions toward the Middle East, simultaneously boosting the country’s presence in locations like Iraq, and the foreign flow of investment back into Turkey.

Ras al Khaimah, the United Arab Emirates’ fourth largest emirate, is a fast-rising star in the business world, with the district’s Free Trade Zone, home to over 6,000 companies from 106 countries, having garnered several awards throughout its brief period of existence since its establishment in the May of 2000. The zone is considered to be the fastest-growing and most cost-effective in the country, employing over 350 full-time staff and operating business centers in four locations in the country.

The agreement with the emirate is set to “encourage joint initiatives for mutual benefits,” according to RAK Free Trade Zone officials, and will allow for the establishment of a Joint Working Group.

Luxury flow

Ras al Khaimah is not however just focused on its free trade zone as the location is heavily favored by luxury hotel chains, with the likes of Hilton and the astonishing Waldorf Astoria, with over 346 rooms, a golf course and private beach, taking roots in the emirate.

The Waldorf Astoria in particular is quick to draw attention both in size and in standards, with a massive facility that spreads for miles, and senselessly outstanding levels of luxury that make the Sheik and his son seem like a regular. The Turkish presence was also quick to jump on to the luxury opportunities of the land, with the luxury hotel chain Rixos Hotels gearing up for a February opening of its newest facility in Ras al Khaimah, the Rixos Bab Al Bahr.

Rixos officials continuously highlight the comfort of conducting business in the RAK, basing the decision to unveil another Rixos in the region on a combination of a lack of red tape and openness to business, as well as fewer restrictions. Dubai, for instance, bans water sports, but RAK welcomes all opportunities, Rixos Director of Entertainment and Leisure said, during a brief press tour of the construction site. The United Arab Emirates currently ranks as the no.1 export destination among the Gulf countries. The country was Turkey’s 9th largest goods export market in 2011, valued at approximately 3.7 billion dollars, and 33th largest supplier of goods.

Bilateral trade between the countries sowed considerable growth over the last decade and as recent efforts have proven, Turkish influence on Middle Eastern markets do not seem like slowing down any time soon.