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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

UAE tourists' delight as Turkish currency crash means bargain holidays

Families snap up bargains as lira plummets in value

Tourists, many from Saudi Arabia and Asia, queue outside a luxury Louis Vuitton store in Istanbul. AFP
Tourists, many from Saudi Arabia and Asia, queue outside a luxury Louis Vuitton store in Istanbul. AFP

Tourists from the UAE are cashing in on the currency crisis in Turkey, taking advantage of holidays and retail prices at a fraction of the normal cost.

Families are hitting the shops in force to maximise on the lira’s record low.

Since the start of this year, the lira has lost nearly 45 per cent of its value because of rampant inflation and mounting concerns over Turkey’s deteriorating relations with the United States.

On Tuesday, Dh1 was worth 1.78 lira as opposed to just 0.82 lira six months ago.

Joanna Balkis, 33, an estate agent from Lebanon who lives in Dubai, has just returned from a two-week holiday in Turkey with her husband and two children.

Ms Balkis said some of the biggest savings were on eating out and shopping.

“I also went to blow dry my hair at a salon in the most high-end street in Istanbul and it only cost me Dh19.6 [35 lira],” she said. “Here in the UAE, we pay Dh150 for a very basic blow dry.

“The prices were awesome. A T-shirt that costs Dh600 at home costs less than Dh100 there.”

Siham Al Hussein, from Fujairah, said that she and her husband had been delighted by their boosted spending power.

Ms Al Hussein said hundreds of tourists were hitting high-end shops such as Bulgari and Chanel in a race to grab the best items.

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Read more:

Tumbling Turkish Lira gives shoppers a bonanza

Turkish Central Bank steps in to ease liquidity as lira’s wild ride continues

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“The prices have dropped to the ground,” she said. “We went shopping for the luxury, high-end brands yesterday and everything is 85 or 90 per cent less than its regular price.

“Everything is peanuts. Whoever wants to shop should go to Turkey now.”

Turkey has long been popular with UAE residents and was one of the top countries for travellers heading abroad for Eid Al Adha this year.

The Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque are among the top attractions in Istanbul.

“Istanbul is much-loved for being a short flight away from the Mena nations,” said Salah Mustafa, a spokesman for online travel operator Wego.

“It’s a traveller’s delight in terms of cuisine, natural wonders and cultural gems.

The surge in demand for travel to Turkey began in late June and peaked in late July, as the GCC travellers planned for the Eid holidays.

“This demand has continued in strength over the past few days due to last-minute travel searches to the country.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged his country to do everything it can to extend hospitality to tourists bringing vital spending dollars into the country.

“You are already very hospitable but keep that up and extend it,” Mr Erdogan told his supporters at the weekend. “Because at a time when some people are taking out dollars, they are bringing it to you.”