Istanbul’s ‘mansion’ market a growing hit with Middle Eastern buyers

The Gulf’s love affair with property in Turkey and in particular Istanbul is as strong as ever, following the purchase of the country’s most expensive waterside mansion for €100million by a Qatari owned firm.

The 5,800-square-metre, 64-room house, known as Erbilginler Yali, is situated on the banks of Istanbul‘s Bosphorus Strait in the city’s Yenikoy district and was ranked the world’s fourth most expensive residential property in the 2014 Forbes’ report ‘The Most Expensive Billionaire Homes In The World’.

On paper the buyer of the property was Qatari businessman Abdulhadi Mana Al-Hajri although it is believed this was on behalf of his son-in law, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, the eighth and current Emir of the State of Qatar.

Tamin bin Hamad is thought to have bought the property for his second wife, Al-Hajri’s daughter, who discovered it while accompanying her husband on a trip to Istanbul in March. Purchasing through his father-in-law’s company has kept Tamin bin Hamad out of the limelight.

Located on the European side of Istanbul and home to some of the city’s finest Ottoman era waterfront homes and seafood restaurants, houses in Yenikoy attract the wealthy people from Turkey and further afield. It also boasts one of Istanbul’s most attractive streets, the platanus-lined Yenikoy Avenue.

Other landmark mansions in Yenikoy include the Sait Halim Paşa and Recaizade Mahmut Ekrem residences. Built in the 19th Century, these days the former is used as a venue for receptions, meetings, conferences and weddings. The latter once belonged to one of Turkey most famous novelists, Recaizade Mahmut Ekrem.

Two other districts famous for their affluent residents and multi-million-euro waterfront homes, and which attract buyers from the Gulf and around the globe, are Arnavutkoy and Bebek, both of which are on Istanbul’s European side.

Bebek, often regarded as the ‘Chelsea’ of Istanbul, is also home to Bosphorus University, a public university established in 1971 and one of Turkey’s leading higher education institutions. Meanwhile, Arnavutkoy is known for its pretty waterfront and locally caught fresh fish, as well as being home to a prestigious American school.

An example of prime property for sale in Arnavutkoy is a characterful five-bedroom, five-bathroom mansion, built in a unique design by an artist. It includes a fitness room, pool, sauna, changing rooms, two shower units, a cloak room toilet and living accommodation for staff if required. It’s on the market for $2,000,000.

Reflecting the rise in interest of prime real estate in Turkey from Gulf buyers, air access between Istanbul and the Middle East is constantly improving. At the end of March 2015, Qatar Airways expanded its existing service between Qatar and Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport, increasing the frequency to a double-daily service. Qatar Airlines began flying to Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in 2004, marking Qatar Airways’ first destination in Turkey, but since then has responded to increasing demand. It now flies to three Turkish destinations, namely Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport (daily flights), Istanbul Ataturk Airport (10-flights-a-week) and Ankara (four-weekly-flights).

Other recently launched routes include a service between Kuwait and Istanbul, operated by Gulf Air which also flies between Istanbul and Bahrain.