With reporting from Shabina S. Khatri
In a sign of deepening ties with Qatar, Turkey is likely the country’s Year of Culture partner for 2015.
Speaking to Doha News, Turkish embassy representatives said the announcement was made during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Qatar this week.
Following the model of previous culture years (Qatar-Japan, Qatar-UK, Qatar-Brazil), several events such as exhibitions, film screenings and concerts are expected to be hosted in both countries.
Embassy representatives said that both countries are working together to finalize details on this project, which is a Qatar Museums initiative that aims to build cultural ties between people here and the rest of the world.
The announcement was carried by Arabic newspapers here and media in Turkey. However, a QM spokesperson told Doha News today that no firm decision has been made yet.
A source close to QM’s Office of Strategic Cultural Relations said that Saudi Arabia had also been under serious consideration as next year’s partner.
But over the past several months, Qatar’s ties with its neighbor have been under strain over a Gulf dispute that also involves the UAE and Bahrain. All three countries have recalled their ambassadors from Doha, saying they want Qatar to do more to ensure their internal security.
Meanwhile, Erdogan’s trip to Doha this week signaled his first official visit to an Arab country since the beginning his term.
The two nations agree politically on several issues, including the crisis in Syria, the war on Gaza and the military ousting of former Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi.
Turkey and Qatar also appear to be enjoying deepening economic ties. A few days before Erdogan’s visit, Turkey’s minister of foreign affairs said that the country “was looking forward to facilitating Qatari investment in the country.”
And earlier this year, Turkey’s ambassador to Doha said Qatar would invest $12 billion in Turkey’s Afsin-Elbistan coal-fired power plant project. Shortly before that, Qatar announced that its Coast Guard Service planned to buy 17 patrol boats from Turkish firm Ares Shipyard for QR200 million ($54.92 million).
During his two-day trip to Doha, Erdogan met with Qatar’s Emir and laid the foundation stone for a new “Turkish Village” here.
The Turkish embassy’s representatives told Doha News that the development would be located near Darb Al Saai, where National Day celebrations take place.
The village will be more of market or souq for Turkish merchandise and crafts, and more details about the project would be revealed in a few weeks.
Also discussed during Erdogan’s visit was the construction of a Turkish cultural center and a Turkish school.
No timeline was set for the center, which will offer Turkish-language courses. But embassy representatives said the school, which is located in Ain Khalid, will be open next September, in time for the 2015-2016 academic year.
One representative said: “Construction is being finished now. The building should be ready in about six months.” The school will cater to Turkish citizens in Doha, as subjects will be taught in Turkish.