Companies belonging to four entrepreneurs from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have bought 74 acres of land around the route of Kanal İstanbul, an artificial waterway the Justice and Development Party (AKP) plans to have constructed in İstanbul, the Sözcü daily reported.
The Kanal İstanbul project, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dubbed his “crazy project,” is an artificial sea-level waterway bisecting the European side of İstanbul to connect the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean. It is scheduled to be completed by 2023; however, there is widespread public opposition to its construction due to environmental and financial concerns.
The AKP government and Erdoğan claim the channel is necessary for the safety of İstanbul’s Bosporus Strait, which sees busy marine traffic; however, opponents of the project say the project is aimed at generating money for pro-AKP circles.
In her article in the Sözcü daily on Wednesday, columnist Çiğdem Toker claimed, based on title deed records, that 74 acres of land around the route of Kanal İstanbul have been sold to four Arab businessmen, namely the Shurak Al Ajdad real estate and tourism company, which belongs to Kuwaiti businessmen Mohammad Mad Almarzouq and Khaled Issam Almarzouq; to Saudi entrepreneur Suleimain al Muhaidib; and to the Dubai-based Noora real estate and tourism company, which belongs to Ahmad Humaid Matar Altayer.
According to recent Turkish media reports, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the mother of the current emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, also purchased some 11 acres of land around the area where the channel will be constructed.
Last month İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) announced that the municipality had withdrawn its support for the protocol governing the construction of Kanal İstanbul that was signed by the former mayor of İstanbul, who was a member of the AKP.
İmamoğlu was elected mayor of İstanbul in a repeat election held on June 23, ending more than 15 years of AKP rule in city.