Istanbul mayor vows to investigate Canal Istanbul land purchases

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu will investigate real estate purchases along the path of a canal the government plans to build through the city after reports emerged that members of the royal family of Turkey’s ally Qatar stood to make huge profits from buying up land.

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, the mother of Qatar Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, set up a company in 2018 that purchased 4.4 hectares (10.8 acres) of land in the path planned for the canal in December that year.

The plot of land has nearly doubled in value to $4.3 million since it was bought, the nationalist newspaper Sözcü reported last week.

The land would further increase in value if the Canal Istanbul project were completed due to zoning plans.

İmamoğlu said his municipality would investigate all real estate dealings to determine whether they were above board, BBC Türkçe reported.

Critics have condemned Canal Istanbul, a flagship construction megaproject of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), calling it unnecessary, expensive and environmentally costly. The government says it will ease the burden of marine traffic through the Bosporus straits, one of the world’s busiest waterways.