OP-ED

National Yemen Staff Reflects on Her First Visit to Turkey

By Tamjid Alkohali

Today Turkey became walks steadily towards the future. Not only the capital Ankara is growing and developing, but all Turkey’s cities flourish and demand all the world’s attention.  Beside its ancient and historical civilization, Turkey is the only country that combines Western culture and Eastern culture. In Turkey, there are many different faces. You don’t know whether you are in an Arabic country or a European country.  The relationship between Yemen and Turkey is increasing with the existence of more than 200,000 Yemeni families with Turkish origins, which makes both countries enjoy deep-rooted historical and cultural ties.

To promote this relationship, a delegation of Yemeni journalists from public and private media organizations including National Yemen have visited three cities in Turkey through an invitation offered by Publishing House in Turkey and the government of Turkey.

Through our visit, the biggest matter attracting the media team was the attention presented by the Turkish officials and also the Turkish people. They make the Yemeni visitor feels as if he/she is a brother when they talk about the depth of Yemeni-Turkish relations immortalized by Turkish heritage in through their poetry and songs in Turkish as well as the historical monuments which belong to the Ottoman era in Yemen, especially in Sana’a.

The beginning of the trip was in the second largest city after Istanbul, the capital of Ankara where the eight Yemeni journalists visited media organizations. The first visit was to the Director General of Press and Information. There, the Director General Murate Karakaya received the delegated team. He explained in details about the public and private media sectors in Turkey, saying that Director General of Press and Information is supervising the media work in Turkey. It ensures of the correct information of Turkish media, it evaluates journalists by following up their work, and it gives a press card for the prefect journalist who commands a specific standard in the field of journalism.

In addition, Karakaya spoke about the Islamic Center that is opened in Istanbul to organize events between Turkey and Arab countries. “The lack of instability is the only obstacle to implement activities and events in Yemen, and any person can invest in the field of media in Turkey without any difficulties,” he emphasized.

After that, the press delegation was directed to the Institute of Strategic Thinking to meet the manager of the institute and an official of political and foreign relations, Prof. Briol Akgun, who explained for them their work in order to develop the relationship between Turkey and the countries of the world, especially with neighboring countries.

The Turkish arms issue was strongly present during a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because arms smuggling from Turkey has caused considerable hype, especially inside Yemen. The Deputy Director General for Information in the Ministry, Cenk Unal said that he couldn’t state any information about that, but journalists can connect with responsible person of policy and relations in the Ministry in order to have correct information about arms smuggling or any other issue.

Unal emphasized that Turkey refuses any process with negative effects in the relationship between Yemen and Turkey and they plan to hold events that are in the interest of the two countries.

Moreover, we were lucky to visit the Turkish radio and television corporation TRT, the first and only public service broadcaster in Turkey. It has channels in 35 languages including Arabic. The Arabic language channel of TRT was launched on 4 April 2010. It is the first Turkish channel in Arabic language. The general manager of TRT Ibrahim Shahin spoke about his visit to Yemen saying that Yemen has an ancient civilization and helps to produce many documentary films, but sometimes the bad circumstances of Yemen stand as obstacles to produce some works.

From their side, journalists called on Shahin to open TRT in Yemen and to produce a documentary film about Yemeni families with Turkish origins. They also demanded to hold a training and rehabilitation courses for Yemeni members of the media and journalists in Turkey in order to improve the skills of Yemeni journalists.  Shahin welcomed the journalists’ idea and promised to hold a training course soon.

After long discussion about the media work in Turkey and Yemen. We went to the largest news agency in Turkey, Anadolu, which was established on April 6th, 1920. The Deputy Director General Editor Chief Omer Eksi stated that the Anatolia news agency would be the best in the world in 2020. He also spoke about Anadolu Agency’s features, saying that it spreads news in six languages, Arabic is one of them. It opened an office in Sana’a a year ago.

With a great longing to see the museum of Mevlana Rumi, we moved to Konya, a cultural, historical, and religious city. It’s famous in cultivating its fertile and extensive lands. We went to the Seljuk Museum, built by architect Baharuddin Tabrizi in order to bury Mevlana Rumi who died in 1273.  The museum opened in March 2nd , 1927 and was called the Maulana Museum or Mevlana in Turkish.

The shrine is designed in a Seljuk manner. The dome of the main building is decorated with green tiles and turquoise ceramics based on four pillars. In the corner under the dome, you will find the tomb of Rumi decorated with gold and covered with a golden cloth. Behind the tomb of Rumi there is a large room where you find exhibits of historical artifacts as well as Rumi’s personal things including conical hats, his prayer rug, clothing, and ancient musical instruments made of bamboo. Outside there are separated rooms that show how Rumi lived, in addition to manuscripts and many other tools.

Today the Maulana Museum is considered one of the most important historical places in the world in which thousands of people from around the world visit it.

After that, the Governor of Konya Muammer Erol hosted us for a few minutes in his office. We spoke with him about media’s role in promoting the relationship of both countries. He also spoke about the regime in Turkey.

In the same context, the Mayor of the Konya Metropolitan Municipality Tahir Akyureky called on journalists to encourage people to invest in the field of re-production of waste, where Turkey would provide the investors with many facilities. He spoke also about their work in growing trees.

Finally, in Konya we paid a visit to Kon TV and Memleket newspaper so the journalists could know more about their work.

We concluded our meetings in the Taim Center for Turkish and Arab Relations in Istanbul. Genel Koordinator Mustafa Guvenc spoke about the office’s tasks in helping Arabs in Turkey and strengthening the relationship between Turkey and Arab countries. “We are a voluntary charitable organization aiming to strengthen the link between Turkey and the Arab world in various fields: cultural, economic, social, and media as well as service sectors of women, students, and youth,” said Guvenc.

In the end the journalists suggested some ideas for Guvenc to be implemented such as holding training courses for the Yemeni journalists in Turkey and filming documentaries about the strong relationship between Yemen and Turkey.

We left Turkey with great satisfaction of the treatment and attention given by them, wishing to implement all the agreements between both countries.