Well, I’m wrapping up things as I prepare myself to travel to Istanbul tomorrow: can’t wait! Obviously, many ideas come to mind ahead of this trip, namely, and in no particular order of importance:
The Ottoman Empire and Turkish nationalism;
Kemal Ataturk and the embodiment of the secular state;
The recent official Turkish stance on democracy, openness and liberties in Syria, not to mention today’s Syrian opposition conference on the Turkish soil;
The forceful Turkish position on Israel at the time of the “Freedom Flotilla” and the diplomatic incident it created;
The relations between the Greek and the Turkish states marked by alternating periods of mutual hostility and reconciliation over Cyprus;
The deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians during World War I;
The US-Turkey relationship which continues to grow in strategic importance;
Turkey’s European Union membership, in addition to its active role in the UN, NATO and tens of other global organizations: a truly understated regional Superpower (not fully understood by its neighbors!);
Moderate Islam in Turkey and its “franchise” export potential;
Turkey’s “East meets West” mantra, where divine religions live together in peace and harmony;
The Turkish government’s lifting of visa requirements for Arabs and Middle Easterners to engage them more in Turkey’s lifestyle, culture and way of doing business;
The fate of the Kurdish people and their imprisoned Kurdish fighter Abdulla Ogalan;
Bilingualism or Trilingualism: will they gain more ground in Turkey one day?
The interruptive Turkish Tourism TV Spots, print ads and outdoor signs everywhere;
“Turkish Delights,” savory cuisine, stunning mansions and breathtaking scenery;
Turkish soaps dubbed into Arabic, and aired on the Middle East region’s leading SatCaster MBC… on top of which came "Gümüş" or “Noor” (in Arabic), a Turkish melodrama originally broadcast in Turkey by Kanal D, featuring Songül Öden & Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ -- who both took the Arab world by storm. When it’s love it never varies;
Turkey-based “tweets” and fellow Turkish “twitter-ers”!
And last but not least, the impeccable Emirates Airline, which will fly me there! (one day will come when I’ll probably fly Turkish Airlines);
And, and, and… how can I forget the hotel overlooking the Bosphorus -- part of the boundary between Europe and Asia - where I’ll be staying?!
(Mazen Hayek of Al Arabiya can be reached at:
firstname.lastname@example.org (twitter: @HayekMG). He welcomes comments and re-Tweets)