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Erdoğan ends economy-driven Gulf tour in UAE

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Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has arrived in the United Arab Emirates, the final leg of a Gulf trip aimed at drumming up investments, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Emirati state media on Wednesday.

The tour included stops in Qatar and Saudi Arabia and saw Erdoğan preside over the signing of lucrative deals to boost the ailing Turkish economy.

“Erdogan has arrived in the UAE on an official visit, accompanied by Turkiye’s First Lady Emine Erdogan,” the UAE’s official WAM news agency said early Wednesday, using an alternate spelling for Turkey.

WAM released footage of Erdoğan and his wife disembarking from a presidential plane in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, where they were greeted by Emirati officials.

The Turkish leader flew in from Qatar, where he met with ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Earlier, during Erdoğan’s stop in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh signed a major drone procurement contract with a Turkish defense firm.

The trip comes as Turkey battles a currency collapse and soaring inflation that have battered its economy.

Ankara has recently repaired relations with Gulf states including the UAE and Saudi Arabia after years of rivalry following the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

Turkish support for organizations linked to the Muslim Brotherhood initially spurred a rupture with Gulf states, which view the movement as a terrorist group.

Relations soured further following a Saudi-led blockade of Turkish ally Qatar by its Gulf Arab neighbors. The embargo was lifted in 2021 but ties with Turkey remained rocky.

With relations on the mend, Erdoğan visited the UAE last year to bolster political and economic ties.

Last month, the UAE’s president, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, met with Erdoğan in Turkey shortly after May polls saw the Turkish leader clinch another five-year term.

Turkish Vice President Cevdet Yılmaz also met with the Emirati president during a June visit to the UAE.

The diplomatic thaw with the UAE has resulted in increased investment in Turkey.

In March, Turkey and the UAE signed a free trade agreement that aims to increase bilateral commerce to $40 billion annually within five years.

Last year, the two countries signed a nearly $5-billion currency swap deal to boost Ankara’s dilapidated foreign currency reserves.

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