According to four sources aware of the deal, Abu Dhabi is close to sealing a deal to buy a stake in a critical Turkish port. The potential agreement marks another sign of a rapprochement between the once-bitter geopolitical rivals. It would underscore Abu Dhabi’s ambition to boost its role as a regional trade and logistics powerhouse.
The sources said the UAE’s state-controlled group AD Ports Group would invest in an entity established by the Turkey Wealth Fund to run the Aegean coast port of Izmir. Izmir’s strategic location at the intersection of East and West makes it a coveted asset, capable of handling a wide variety of cargo, from containerized goods to bulk commodities like grain and raw materials. The two entities will create a joint steering committee to assess investment opportunities in ports and related infrastructure and to foster trade ties.
For AD Ports, which operates the Khalifa Port in the Gulf nation’s capital of Abu Dhabi, this move is a step toward its long-term plan to diversify its portfolio away from hydrocarbons. The port and logistics firm has already signed strategic collaboration agreements in Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq as part of this strategy. At the same time, the Turkey-focused deal adds to its growing footprint in Europe.
The Turkish economy’s recent struggles make it an attractive market for foreign investors, especially with the depreciating lira making its assets much cheaper than they were just a year ago. The fact that Ankara’s new economic team is pursuing foreign investments signals its willingness to move beyond its previous unorthodox policies that have led to hyperinflation and a depreciating lira.
While the economic logic of this deal is obvious, it’s worth noting that the path to completion isn’t necessarily smooth. Potential regulatory hurdles and lingering geopolitical uncertainties in the region could pose challenges. But ultimately, if navigated correctly, the Iskenderun port deal is set to serve as a defining symbol of a burgeoning partnership between Abu Dhabi and Ankara.