As the Turkish lira has been suffering the worst devaluation in its history, a recent visit to Doha by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been evaluated by commentators as fresh efforts to develop economic ties between Turkey and Qatar as well as former rivals in the Gulf states, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“The visit was primarily for economic reasons. Turkey demanded Qatar’s financial support. Qatar was asked to invest in Turkey on the areas of real estate and automotive industry. This visit also comes after the visit of the United UAE’s National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan,”Tariq Wehbî, a researcher focusing his research on international relations, told ANHA.
Wehbî believes that Qatar seeks to purchase a large number of tourism centres in Turkey.
”Turkey asked for money to facilitate the service sector and sectors based on transportation, but Qatar preferred to wait until it has better indicators in terms of returning these loans, but stressed that it is ready to invest in the private sector, which has grown, and even it attracts European investments,” he said.
Recalling the developments after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Tariq Wehbi said that the Turkish state wants to close this case with no further harm to diplomatic relations.
During the meeting of Erdoğan and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Wehbi says “Talks were held about his closeness to Saudi Arabia.”
“The Turkish foreign minister also said that some channels with Saudi Arabia have been opened and the problem has been solved, although there were disagreements on some issues. But even though strengthening ties with Saudi Arabia is one of the goals of Turkey’s next phase, it is always looking for foreign funding to make good money.”
Another point Wehbi draws attention to is not to confuse the Egyptian-Turkish talks with the Turkish-Saudi talks as the reconciliation process between Turkey and Egypt, which was first activated in March, is still stuck at minimal diplomatic negotiations.
“Egypt competes with Turkey on many issues, especially economically. This is not the case with Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“However, attention must be drawn to the Sunni triangle of Saudi Arabia-Egypt-Turkey. The strong alliance of Sunni Muslims here could be a reaction to Shiite Iran’s threats against Baghdad, Damascus, Senaa and Beirut.”
Qatar and Turkey have announced they agreed to extend a currency exchange deal between their central banks during Erdoğan’s visit to Doha, where he met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.
According to a joint statement on 7 December, the two sides “welcomed the signing of the agreement on the extension and amendment of the Turkish lira-Qatari riyal currency exchange arrangement” between their central banks.
The joint statement said Qatar agreed to extend a currency exchange agreement with Turkey, which Doha had tripled to $15 billion last year, but made no mention of expanding the amount of direct financial assistance, according to Reuters.
Erdoğan also sought to meet Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, generally known as MbS, in Doha, but this meeting has not taken place as a Turkish official told Reuters that “the programmes did not align”.
Especially after the Turkish economy has started to experience major crises in recent years, Qatar’s injection of money into the Turkish economy became a very critical factor as in 2018 and in 2020, Qatar established exchange mechanisms with Turkey to deal with the currency crisis, a move by Qatar that was evaluated by some commentators as a political act by Qatar to support its ally, the Turkish government.