FORFEIT

SAUDIS LET WALLETS DO THE TALKING TO PUNISH TURKEY FOR KHASHOGGI

Dünya Executive - - OVERVIEW -

Last week, pro-government Saudis have been calling for a boycott of Turkish products on Twitter. Among the biggest targets are dairy producer Pinar Sut Mamulleri Sanayii AS and Ulker Biskuvi Sanayi AS, which has two plants in Saudi Arabia and ranks first in its biscuits market.

At stake is a relationsh­ip that includes $4.8 billion of bilateral trade, a major export market for some Turkish heavyweigh­ts and much-needed revenue from bigspendin­g Saudi tourists who may be put off by Turkey’s repeated efforts to expose the Saudi role in the killing of the Washington Post columnist on October 2.

Weaponizin­g economic ties isn’t without precedent under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who’s been willing to flex the kingdom’s financial muscle by taking punitive measures in recent disputes with Canada and Germany.

The economic pain won’t be immediate, but the fallout is evident in the real estate market. Saudis, among the top foreign buyers of Turkish properties in 2017, ranked only sixth last month with their purchases plunging 37 percent, according to official data.

The standoff hints at a deeper strain between the two biggest economies in the Middle East. In public, the Saudi government has taken a more conciliato­ry tone, with most criticism of Turkey so far confined to social and traditiona­l media.

While the authoritie­s in Ankara have kept mum, many Turks vented their anger at Saudi Arabia on Eksisozluk. com, one of the country’s largest online platforms, compiling 30 pages of comments on the subject. Some have responded with calls to boycott the hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

Meanwhile, the hashtag urging users to name Turkish companies to be blackliste­d was trending on Twitter in Saudi Arabia, indicating the topic’s popularity. Another campaign that began on social media last month called on hundreds of thousands of high-rolling Saudi visitors to boycott Turkey.

Saudi tourists spend $1,200 per person in Turkey, surpassing Germans and Russians, BloombergH­T cited MasterCard Turkey General Manager Yigit Caglayan as saying in May.

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