Turk­ish stars meet global celebs at Is­tan­bul Madame Tus­sauds

Arab News - - COFFEE BREAK -

IS­TAN­BUL: It’s the place in Is­tan­bul where you can meet mod­ern Tur­key’s founder Mustafa Ke­mal Ataturk and Ot­toman ruler Suleiman the Mag­nif­i­cent, then pose next to Ju­lia Roberts, or maybe, Turk­ish su­per­star ac­tress Beren Saat.

At the new branch of the iconic wax­works fran­chise Madame Tus­sauds, the brand’s fa­mous mix of global celebri­ties has a spe­cial Turk­ish flavour.

The at­trac­tion, which opened on Mon­day, is sit­u­ated in the heart of the Euro­pean side of the city and hopes to help re­verse a trend of de­clin­ing tourism af­ter a spate of ter­ror at­tacks this year.

The very street where it is lo­cated, Istik­lal Av­enue, was early in the year hit by a sui­cide bomb­ing and has seen nu­mer­ous busi­nesses close as vis­i­tors stayed away.

On en­ter­ing the mu­seum the model of Ataturk, Tur­key’s na­tional hero who founded the mod­ern sec­u­lar state out of the ru­ins of the Ot­toman Em­pire, is the first fig­ure the vis­i­tor meets.

Get­ting Ataturk right was the num­ber one pri­or­ity, af­ter a pre­vi­ous model on dis­play at Madame Tus­sauds in Lon­don was ac­cused of bear­ing lit­tle re­sem­blance to Tur­key’s revered leader and called a “dis­grace to the na­tion.”

“We think it is the best replica ever made so far,” said Sarper Hilmi Suner, a gen­eral man­ager at Mer­lin En­ter­tain­ments, the Bri­tain-based com­pany which runs the at­trac­tion.

Those less knowl­edge­able of Turk­ish cul­ture will also find fa­mil­iar faces like Hol­ly­wood ac­tors Brad Pitt and Ju­lia Roberts or sports fig­ures in­clud­ing ten­nis cham­pion Rafael Nadal and sprinter Usain Bolt.

But some prom­i­nent Turk­ish soap opera ac­tors and ac­tresses on dis­play like Ki­vanc Tatl­i­tug and Beren Saat could at­tract for­eign vis­i­tors, as Turk­ish soap op­eras take Arab and even Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries by storm. “We cre­ated a mix­ture that could at­tract for­eign and do­mes­tic tourists,” said Ay­dan Al­boga Uslu, mar­ket­ing man­ager at Mer­lin En­ter­tain­ments.

But there is no model of cur­rent Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan — at least for the mo­ment.

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