Turkish government allies, Qatar to gain from Istanbul Canal project – report

The Qatari royal family and a group of Turkish conglomerates that have warm relations with Turkey’s ruling party stand to be the chief beneficiaries of a large-scale infrastructure megaproject in Istanbul, said Sayari, a global corporate data provider.

Although tenders are still being submitted, it is likely Turkish conglomerates Mapa Construction, Cengiz Holding, Kalyon Holding, Kolin Construction, and Limak Holding will be involved in the Istanbul Canal project, due to their close ties with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), said the commercial intelligence platform.

The consortium of five was granted an even 20-percent split on the new Istanbul Airport construction – another megaproject – and all of the companies except Mapa also contributed to the Northern Marmara Motorway project, Sayari said, citing public records.

The Istanbul Canal is a multi-billion-dollar project pushed by the AKP to build a 50-kilometer artificial waterway linking between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara through Istanbul.

The AKP says it will reduce traffic on the busy Bosporus strait by providing a preferable trading route for international shipping companies. But critics of the project say the ruling party is risking irreversible ecological damage in an attempt to reinvigorate the stuttering construction sector and provide cash for its allies and clients.

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser al-Misnad, the mother of Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, purchased 44,702 square meters of land along the canal route in 2018 through her joint-stock company, Triple M Gayrimenkul Turizm Ticaret Anonim Şirketi, Sayari reported, adding that Erdoğan’s son-in-law and finance minister Berat Albayrak had also bought land in the same area.

“Once the canal is complete, the value of land alongside it is expected to skyrocket, positioning Erdoğan’s Qatari allies to profit greatly from the project,” it said.

The megaproject underlines “the collusion of the state and private sector in Turkey” and further exhibits how public records can “reveal how billions in contracts and property can go to entities and individuals” close to Erdogan and the AKP, Sayari said.