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Arab land purchases near Kanal İstanbul prompt ban on municipal access to cadaster records

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Starting from Jan. 31, Turkey’s Land Registry and Cadaster General Directorate will prevent municipalities from accessing land registry information, the Cumhuriyet news website reported on Wednesday.

The regulation, which has been decided by a commission within the directorate, will block municipalities’ access to data regarding the identity real persons or entities purchasing land outside their direct areas of authority, which will now be visible only to the Interior Ministry.

The development came after it was revealed that a number of Arab nationals and companies from the oil-rich Gulf region have purchased a significant amount of land around the planned Kanal İstanbul, a government-led project to build a sea-level artificial waterway bisecting the European side of İstanbul.

The İstanbul Municipality has also made public a survey showing land ownership in areas around the projected canal.

The project has recently come to prominence, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and government officials insisting that they will proceed with their plan to construct it and the popular mayor of İstanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, fiercely opposing it.

İmamoğlu has described the project as a “betrayal of the city” and a “murder project,” enumerating 15 reasons why he opposes it, including threats it would pose to the water supply and the ecological balance of the country’s largest city.

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