Arabic investors have gone on the offensive in terms of the purchase of residential properties, in the Black Sea region – especially in Trabzon.
Citizens of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar and Jordan are settling in the Eastern Black Sea Region. The most important reasons why Arabs, who are visiting the city centers and flatlands of Trabzon – primarily- Rize, Artvin, Ordu and Giresun, prefer these regions are their cool and wet climate and natural charms.
The Alabdali family, which had gone to Bursa, Yalova and Istanbul in the previous years, said that they had been struck with an admiration for Uzungöl, which they were visiting for the first time.
Majed Alabdali is a public sector official in Saudi Arabia. He explains that he has been coming to Turkey for a holiday with his family for the last 20 years, and that until this year, he had visited Istanbul, Bursa and Yalova.
“We have come to Trabzon this year for the first time. We particularly loved Uzungöl very much. Turkey really is a very beautiful country. We went to Rize and saw the Ayder Plateau, but Uzungöl is different. The people in Turkey are friendly. We experience language problems from time to time, but we are able to understand each other, one way or another. We feel more comfortable here than in Europe. We want to buy an apartment in Trabzon, and stay in our own home.”
According to the information given by the Governor’s Office of Trabzon to Al Jazeera, 1081 people who visited the city from the Arab countries in just the last two years, have purchased 1271 residential properties. Abdulrahman Al Secait from Saudi Arabia is one of those. Al Secait explains that he had come to Trabzon with his family after retiring, and that he had liked the city very much. Ömer Saka, who works as a real estate consultant in Trabzon, has had a brochure printed for his Arab clients, as well as adding the Arabic translations to the Turkish advertisements on the windows of his office. Saka, who also employs an interpreter in order to be able to communicate with the Arab clients easily, states that the Arabs are paying attention to the Airport and Yomra regions in particular.
“The Arabs want the home they are going to buy to have a view of the sea, and also to see greenery. It is also important for it to be within a complex, with security. House prices vary between 250 thousand and 1 million liras, depending on size and location. Some of our clients leave the decoration to us and go, after they have bought the home.”
“We hold the people of this region in very high regard and have seen Trabzon to be a place which can be lived in. We like the rain and the cool weather. The opportunities presented by nature here are very high. There are many places to go and things to see. We will stay in this house during our holidays for now. We are considering living here permanently in the future. They look after us very well here. The number of tradesmen who speak a foreign language is very low. That is the only thing we have difficulty with. We are having to use smart phone applications or sign language to understand each other.”
It is possible to run into Saudi Arabian citizens in particular, as well as people from Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan, in Trabzon. The property sector is experiencing an active time, alongside the tourism sector. Property advertisements in Arabic can be seen in many places across the city.
The number of travel agencies in the tourism sector, in Trabzon, has risen from 53 to 114 in five years. Kemalettin Yiğitler works as an operations supervisor in one agency. He says that the direct flights from Riyadh and Jeddah to Trabzon have had an influence on the interest in the region rising.
“Uzungöl is an indispensable area for the Arabs. We organize excursions to Hıdırnebi Plateau, Sümela Monastery, Ayder and Karagöl. They want to go to Ordu and try the cable car. Private vehicles are preferred in general. Both they and we give great importance to privacy. The rear view mirrors of our vehicles look upwards. Their windows are darkened. They prefer old drivers.”
The Metropolitan Municipality of Trabzon has written the Arabic translations on the signposts which show the historic and touristic areas. A foreign language course has been organized in order to enable tradesmen to communicate with the tourists more comfortably. 135 tradesmen have received a certificate. According to the information we have obtained from Media and Public Relations Branch Directorate of the Metropolitan Municipality of Trabzon, while 30 thousand Arab tourists came to Trabzon in 2010, this number rose to 410 thousand last year.
In the first years, the term of accommodation of an Arab tourist in the city was 1,4 days on average. This is expected to increase to 8 days in 2016, and 16 more hotels are expected to be opened in the city this year. Orhan Fevzi Gümrükçüoğlu, the Mayor of the Metropolitan Municipality of Trabzon, said, in his statement at the start of the tourism season, that Trabzon had obtained a revenue of 1.3 billion dollars from Arab tourists in 2015.
Barber Mustafa Özbektaş, in the center of Trabzon, explains that he added Arabic words on to the window of his shop as a result of the increase in the number of Arab tourists.
“Rather than coming with tour companies, the Arabs prefer to come and see themselves. They determine their hotels, vehicles, meals and restaurants themselves. 25 thousand Arab tourists came to Rize in 2013. Last year this increased to 47 thousand. The Governor’s Office of Rize, which wanted to increase the number of tourists, took part in national and international tourism exhibitions. A new four star hotel opened in Rize last month. There are also plans to open a five star hotel next year. The tourists who come to Rize visit the Fırtına and İkizdere Valleys in particular, as well as the area around Ayder Plateau.”
The Governor’s Office of Ordu has prepared two presentation projects, entitled, “The Streams of Ordu flow to Tourism” and “Million Share Ordu”, in order to be able to attract the Arabs to the region. It also invited more than one hundred Arab journalists to present Ordu to them. İrfan Balkanlıoğlu, the Governor of Ordu, said that direct flights from Saudi Arabia would begin.
“The businessmen from the Gulf states, who came to Ordu in the aftermath of the presentation programs, said that they wanted to invest in Ordu. They said that they could open holiday resorts, rehabilitation centers directed at the old and golf courses. A suitable place was found in the district of Çaybaşı. They made the applications for the necessary permissions. The first flight from Saudi Arabia to Ordu – Giresun Airport will be on 19 June.”
İrfan Balkanlıoğlu, the Governor of Ordu, said that the marketing efforts would continue to increase. The number of Arab tourists in Ordu has been displaying an increase in the last two years. The number of tourists was 14 thousand in 2013, and this rose to 29 thousand in 2015. The expectation this year is for 50 thousand Arab tourists to visit Ordu.