At a time when a host of Arab nations have condemned French President Emmanuel Macron’s anti-Islamic remarks, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan even suggesting that the French leader should get a “mental health check”, Ankara itself appears to be ‘boycotted’ in the Middle-East.
Following the boycott call of French products over Macron’s comments, it turns out that Turkey was second in line for a similar treatment with Saudi Arabia leading the fight to replace Turkish products with Greek ones.
According to local media reports, a host of large supermarket chains in Saudi Arabia have replaced various Turkish products with products from Greece, in order to support Athens in its long-ongoing fight against Ankara over the maritime border in East Mediterranean.
The #SaudiArabia had begun enforcing an informal ban on Turkish goods
Results, Erdoğan's #Turkey exports fall by 20 percent, FTD double since Jan, following tax hikes & high tariffs at customs in #Morocco and #Algeria
Erdoğan want French product boycott😂https://t.co/Xd8uNXn1DT
— Abhijit Chatterjee (@abhijitc4) October 26, 2020
— lullaby for Syrian kids (@Syriankidslove) October 16, 2019
Andreas Mountzouroulias, while writing for Greek-based news agency, Pentpostagma, says – “We hope that the Greek authorities and especially the Greek businessmen will hear all this about the serious boycott of Turkish products in the Gulf region and that they will hurry to cover these needs as much as possible, in order to help the Greek economy first and foremost with creating new opportunities.”
The move which began with boycott calls made by pro-government social media influencers with a large number of followers has turned into a massive campaign that not only has a hashtag but a logo as well.
“A true citizen doesn’t wait for a decision from the government,” tweeted a Saudi columnist, Salman Aldosary, close to the kingdom’s leadership.
According to Vivian Nereim, writing for the Bloomberg Quint – “Over the past two weeks a series of Saudi businesses, including major grocery chains like Abdullah Al Othaim Markets Co., announced that they’d stop carrying products from Turkey. A dwindling stock of Turkish dairy was still available during a recent visit to a Tamimi Markets outlet in Riyadh, but that chain has now also joined the boycott. A small online fashion business that sold mostly Turkish products announced it was shutting down entirely less than a month after its launch.”
In what is considered an unofficial boycott of Turkish products by Saudi Arabia so far, a burger chain changed the name of one of its burgers from “Turkish Burger” to “Greek Burger”.
The Herfy burger franchise, which is considered the fastest-growing multinational fast food restaurant chain in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and one of the leading food services companies in the Middle East, changed the name of the beef patty while also reducing the price of it.
A netizen, Ghaith Al-Tamimi, commenting on the ban of Turkish products, tweeted – “What a blessing to see the products from Greece, Egypt, Morocco replacing the products from Turkey.”
The latest actions display how fast a political disagreement between the two regional powers has led to an adverse effect on their trade, especially global brands like Mango.
Recently, Mango, a Spanish clothing design and manufacturing company based in Barcelona, which has around 55 outlets in Saudi Arabia along with manufacturing facilities in Turkey, was forced to look for alternative manufactures in order to maintain its business operations.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Middle East, much to the immense wealth it acquires from the sale and export of its petroleum products. Ankara would be wary that losing a trade partner of such high stature, despite all the clamor by Erdogan.
While the relations between the two nations had already remained strained, they were worsened after the murder of a Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, who was a critic of the Saudi leadership.