Istanbul has welcomed more Arab visitors to the world's most Googled destination than ever before this year with numbers reaching more than 1.3 million in the first seven months of 2015.
According to data released by Istanbul's Culture and Tourism Directorate, almost 20% of the 7 million-plus visitors to Istanbul are Arab tourists, nearly doubling their market share from 10% of the total in 2010.
During the first seven months of 2015, Saudi Arabians topped the Arab list with 254,825 visitors to the historic city of Istanbul, followed by 198,425 Iraqis and 161,526 Syrians. In July alone, almost 1.5 million people visited the city and this number is expected to increase further in August.
Research also shows that Arabs also purchase the most property in Istanbul, many of them attracted by bargains in the city's suburbs that appeal to young professional tenants. Buy to let has been on the rise in Istanbul's streets for the last two years despite Turkey's wider geo-political issues as the city's economy continues to boom, driving growth in its rental market.
Recent years have seen Turkey rise above the parapet as a popular holiday destination, with visitor numbers reaching 36.8 million in 2014 representing a 5.5% increase on the year before. Istanbul is the most popular destination for visitors to the country although Turkey has a lot to offer outside the historic city.
Istanbul is a fascinating destination that has been considered home by many civilisations for thousands of years, serving as a capital city to three large empires over the centuries. The original city walls of each period are still visible together with palaces, pavilions, mosques, churches, synagogues, fountains and mansions in almost every district of Istanbul.
Turkey currently has a well-documented housing deficit with the Central Bank of Republic of Turkey stating a requirement for 5.5 million additional homes in the country by 2017, of which 50% are needed in Istanbul where the housing shortage is most chronic.
The population of Turkey is growing faster than any other country in Europe, predicted to reach 83 million by 2023, up from 72.5 million currently. Turkey has an unusually young demographic, with half the population below the age of 30, according to TurkStat. The working population is a significantly large section of the total of the country's population, which has a strong impact on economic growth.
Pressure on existing housing in Istanbul is set to increase as the city's population rises from 13.5 million to 18 million by 2023. One of the key drivers of Istanbul real estate is the severe housing shortage, particularly for high-quality affordable homes for young professional renters. By 2017, research indicates 500,000 new homes will be needed in Turkey, 250,000 of which are required in Istanbul.
If Turkey meets its needs for housing through construction over the next two years, there are likely to be many opportunities for a good value-growth investment. Turkish real estate is relatively cheap compared to more traditional European property markets like Spain and France and it is a beautiful country, rich with a unique culture formed from the influences of various civlisations through the ages.