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Does Istanbul Have the Potential to Global City?

Does Istanbul Have the Potential to Global City?

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Istanbul, which was the capital of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires and which has an unprecedented cultural accumulation all over the world, is fortunate because nature too was very generous with it. Given these characteristics, it would be no exaggeration to say that "this city was created by nature to be the capital of the world." The fact that churches and synagogues are lined with mosques in Istanbul is especially significant today as a symbol of tolerance. This city has a distinct place in the world, not only because it is a city of civilizations but also a place where religions meet. The view of Hagia Sophia and the Shore Museum, with its rare Byzantine mosaics, as well as mosques, castles, tombs, palaces and kiosks that reflect the splendor of "Ottomanli" will take a long time. However, we are sure that one will fall in love with Istanbul at the end of this magical journey. We know that it is not possible to cover a few pages in a city that was the capital of three empires. The discovery of Istanbul, and the experience of Istanbul, is a unique pleasure.


Brief about the Evolution of the City

Istanbul was once the history of Constantinople Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and is among the 15 largest urban areas in the world. Located on the Bosporus and covers the entire Golden Horn region, it is a natural harbor. Because of its size, Istanbul extends to both Europe and Asia. The city is the only city in the world located in two continents.

The city of Istanbul is important to geography because it has a long history of the rise and fall of the world's most famous empires. Because of their participation in these empires, Istanbul has also undergone various changes in names.

Byzantium Although Istanbul may have been inhabited since 3000 BC, it was not a city until Greek colonists arrived in the area in the 7th century BC. These colonists led King Bezas and settled there because of the strategic location along the Bosporus. King Bezas named the city of Byzantium after himself.

The Roman Empire (330-395) Byzantium became part of the Roman Empire in the 1930s. During this time, the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great reconstructed the entire city. His aim was to make them stand out and give the city features similar to those in Rome. In 330, Constantine proclaimed the city as the capital of the entire Roman Empire and was named Constantinople. It grew and flourished as a result.

The Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman) (395-1204 and 1261-1453) After the death of Emperor Theodosius I in 395, a huge revolution took place in the empire where his sons were permanently divided. After division, Constantinople became the capital of the Byzantine Empire in the year 400.

As part of the Byzantine Empire, the city became a distinct Greek, compared to its former identity in the Roman Empire. Because Constantinople was in the center of two continents, it became a center of commerce, culture and diplomacy and grew greatly. In 532, the anti-government revolution of Nika Revolt erupted among the inhabitants of the city and destroyed it. After that, many prominent monuments, including Hagia Sophia, were built during the reconstruction of the city, and Constantinople became the center of the Greek Orthodox Church.

The Latin Empire (1204-1261) Although Constantinople flourished significantly during the decades after it became part of the Byzantine Empire, the factors that led to its success also made it a target of fighting. For hundreds of years, troops from across the Middle East attacked the city. For some time it was controlled by members of the Fourth Crusade after the city was desecrated in 1204. Later, Constantinople became the center of the Latin Catholic empire.

With the continued rivalry between the Latin Catholic Empire and the Greek Orthodox Byzantine Empire, Constantinople was captured in the middle and began to decline greatly. It has gone bankrupt, the population has fallen, and has become more prone to attacks with the collapse of defense sites throughout the city. In 1261, in the midst of this turmoil, the Nicene Empire of Constantinople regained its independence and returned to the Byzantine Empire. Around the same time, Ottoman Turks began to invade cities around Constantinople, cutting them off from many neighboring towns.

Ottoman Empire (1453-1922) After being greatly weakened, Constantinople was officially invaded by the Ottomans, led by Sultan Mehmed II on 29 May 1453, after a 53-day siege. During the siege, the last Byzantine emperor, Constantine XI, died while defending his city. Almost immediately, Constantinople was proclaimed the capital of the Ottoman Empire and its name changed to Istanbul.

When he took over the city, Sultan sought to renovate Istanbul. He established the Grand Bazaar (one of the largest covered markets in the world) and returned the fleeing Catholics and Greek Orthodox. In addition to these residents, Muslim, Christian and Jewish families were brought in to establish a mixed people. Sultan Mohammed also began building architectural monuments, schools, hospitals, public baths, and mosques of the Great Empire.

From 1520 to 1566, Suleiman Al-Qaniini dominated the Ottoman Empire, and there were many cultural and architectural achievements that made the city a major cultural, political and commercial center. By the middle of the sixteenth century, its population had increased to nearly one million. The Ottoman Empire ruled Istanbul until it was defeated and occupied by the Allies in the First World War.

Republic of Turkey 1923-Present Following the First World War, the Turkish War  for independence took place, and Istanbul became part of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. Istanbul was not the capital of the new republic, and during its first years of formation, Istanbul was overlooked. Investment went into the new capital, Ankara with a central location. In 1940 and 1950, though, Istanbul began to emerge. New public squares, avenues, and streets were built, and many of the city's historic buildings were demolished. With the 1970s, the population of Istanbul grew rapidly, leading to the expansion of the city into nearby villages and forests, eventually creating a major global capital.

Istanbul Today  Many historical areas of Istanbul were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. In addition, because of its status as a rising world power, its history, and its importance to culture in both Europe and the world, Istanbul was the capital of European Culture 2010 by the European Union. Over the past 15 years, the city has witnessed a qualitative leap, unprecedented in its previous history, in changing its features at all levels, which has long been denied to become one of the greatest Cosmo-Polytene known to history.


Controversy over the Possibility of Considering  

Istanbul as a Global Capital

Professor Robin Leach proposed that Istanbul be a Global Capital. His proposal was very principled. This proposal was based on the foundations of its perception that it enjoys the advantage of something for all in it, because it is based on an exceptional mix of qualified features, especially its strategic geography among civilizations, its ability to be from the the West and in contrast to the West, and its cultural and religious resources which has no parallel in the cumulative influence anywhere else, and gives the city a global identity that recalls its days of the Ottoman Empire's multi-ethnic glory. In addition, more than anywhere else, Turkish political leadership has been alive to provide Istanbul with a world-class infrastructure where it wants to take advantage of its unique personality.

Robin Leach's proposal to consider the possibility of treating Istanbul as a global capital has attracted a wide range of positive and negative responses. Which, as a reaction to the negative aspects, later attempted to explain in its revised text that Istanbul could not hope to obtain such recognition until Turkey addressed some of the issues it considered to be serious and required Turkey to address. They are controversial issues that are political in nature:

  • Kurdish grievances and their civil rights;
  • Concerns about the human rights implications in Turkey;
  • Objection to Turkey's membership in NATO and its implications for non-defensive military operations, regime change and intervention in internal conflict. Such Turkish undertakings seem to overshadow any current commitment that proposes Istanbul as a global capital and is likely to be treated as a serious obstacle;
  • Reservations about Turkey as a country of 80 million Muslims, Istanbul as a city of 15 million Muslims, is not able to represent the world, and an European city in a way will serve the world's peoples less controversially;
  • Several kinds of objections were also raised. For example, Istanbul is not suitable as an option because it lies in the interface of tectonic plates that make it vulnerable to destructive earthquakes.

Hereafter we will discuss these issues separately:

Kurdish Issue There is no doubt that the Kurdish problem is Turkey's biggest problem, and it is not the result of today. Since its inception, Turkey has denied its ethnic diversity and considered every citizen living within its borders "Turkey" regardless of its roots and its native language, Turkish. Not only did they not deny the cultural and social rights of the Turkish Kurds, not even their political rights, but even  kept going to semi-deliberate neglect and marginalization of the predominantly Kurdish south and south-east of Turkey where kurds live, which are the majority of its population. As such, the  feelings of anger has increased among the Kurds, who saw that they are citizens of the second degree in the country.

After two unsuccessful attempts with Turgut Ozal and Najmuddin Erbakan, the AKP's determene  to solve the Kurdish problem internally, with Erdogan's recognition in 2005 of the "Kurdish problem" in Turkey, and a series of constitutional and democratic reforms alongside performence of dozens of economic and development projects In the Kurdish major areas. After years of secret negotiations with PKK leader Abdullah Ogalan, the government began what it called a "settlement process" after a clear call by members of the party to lay down their arms and engage in the political process in 2013. But the two-year truce did not last for long The crisis in neighboring countries and the efforts of foreign countries to inflame the Kurdish crisis not only in Turkey, but elsewhere with inrelevent agendas, and the crisis took on a military character that seriously damaged the Kurdish problem. However, the Turkish government has given the Kurdish issue unprecedented attention at the economic and social levels through mega projects working to develop and stabilize Kurdish areas neglected in previous decades. In addition, it has been able to introduce many reforms that were hard to imagine in the past, such as giving limited rights to Kurds and reforms in human rights.

Human Rights in Turkey The issue of human rights began to be raised by European human rights bodies after the declaration of the state of emergency, following the failed coup attempt in  Turkey, that necessitated the need to deal with the crisis of the coup attempt, which  Turkey suffered for a long time.  Frankly, this  is an internal affair is not justified to raise by the EU bodies, being Turkey  a democratic state, and the judiciary in the country enjoys full independence. Human rights issues must be assessed internally by the Turkish people and civil right institutions.

The second point in this context is the irritation raised by the European Council on the question of the presidential system, which was approved by the Turkish people by a majority in a democratic referendum. Critics argue that change could lead to the concentration of powers in the hands of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom they accuse of increasing his authoritarian behavior. Again, this also barely  an internal affair to be tackled solely by the Turkish people.

NATO Membership NATO was born in the context of a strategic vision of the US aimed at the siege of the Soviet Union within its borders and prevent the expansion of influence outside Eastern Europe. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the strategic importance of NATO began to shrink. NATO is currently facing a three-dimensional crisis:

  1. The growing strength of the Russian Federation is seriously threatening to return the specter of a new Cold War
  2. The relative weight of the United States in the international system has declined and its allies have been asked to bear the cost of protecting them for years
  3. The failure of both the United States and Western Europe, the main NATO allies, in dealing with Turkey, to the point that Turkey threaten to withdraw from the alliance sooner or later.

As Turkey handles development issues and economic growth in its strategic directions as priorities, it has given the issues of partnership and mutual benefit to all countries without exception, away from political rivalries. It seems that this golden age of NATO is over and Turkey will reassess its membership sooner or later as dictates its strategic interest.

Turkey's Ability to Represent the World as a Muslim Country The European civilization of Theology in the Middle Ages did not define the phenomenon of minority protection. Even when they enter into contracts to protect minorities, they quickly disband them, as they did in the Inquisition with the Muslims of Andalusia. Even in their wars - and when they win and be nations in their own name - they were planning to exterminate others. Thus, when the Crusader warrior - as an individual - starts his war, it is based on a specific goal, which is the slaughter of the Muslim "unbeliever in his opinion," in response to the calls of hatred planted in it, was "Urban II" calls them to exterminate Muslims, on the pretext that God wants it! It has been proven that God did not want that, even destroyed crusades fully with their children, by the crusaders themselves!

Some may think that modern civilization is not so, although it was betting on the melting of minorities in it, and when you found them adhering to their faith and civilization; I turned them back to the cow, as is known in our days!

As for the Muslim fighter, in all his wars he had to abide by the moral duties that are required to combine in his struggle between both type of Jihad, the lower, "which is fighting" and the greater "which is the anger and the restraint of emotions and the treatment of enemies with dignity and morals!" On the other hand, according to Bozar, the author of “Humanity of Islam”, Islam has always owned an institution for the protection of non-Muslim religious minorities under the control of Muslims, an institution that protects non-Muslim clerics and their temples, the Muslim Mujahid saves the temples of his warring enemies; this comes in compliance with the provisions of the true religion of Islam. It prevented Muslim fighters from insulting non-Muslim clerics, or force people to convert to Islam.

Islam has given a lesson to humanity in this area. Since the migration of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina, Islam has been established and it has been confirmed that communities of other faiths have the full freedom to realize their own religion. Have their own laws and courts, maintain their language and culture, and have their own schools where their children are raised according to their preferences. Since that moment, the Islamic State has taken upon itself to protect them from any aggression from outside or within. Thus, the Islamic state was not a Muslim state that was restricted to Muslims alone, but was a union of nations of different religions, cultures and traditions committed to living together in harmony and peace.

The Site of Istanbul is at the Front Tectonic Plates that Make it Vulnerable to Devastating Earthquakes A devastating quake could hit Istanbul at any moment. The epicenter of the earthquake could be in the Falak region of northern Anatolia, on the city gates. The gravity of this seismic threat to Istanbul depends on the strength of the tangle of platelets and the area that the earthquake will hit. Research conducted by Marco Bonhoff of the German Geoscience Research Center suggests that the next major earthquake may occur in Istanbul after it is starts on the eastern side of the Marmara Sea. "There is good news and bad news for the city. The good news: the earthquake will spread east, away from the city. The bad news: there will be very short moments of early warning, a few seconds at most.

Based on historical records, the Marmara region has not experienced a major earthquake since 1766, but it is known that there is a rupture occurring every 250 years. It should be noted that the recent earthquake in Istanbul, the magnitude of 7 degrees, was in 1894, causing the deaths of at least 1,349 people. In this context, it should be noted here that all modern buildings built in Turkey are currently in accordance with strict engineering standards that take seismic effects in engineering studies with great attention. In addition, the state is constantly developing monitoring and control devices and early warning systems to ensure high-precision devices. Early warning times are critical to turn traffic signals into red, to close tunnels and bridges, as well as vital infrastructure.


Potential of Istanbul under Current Controversy

                    "If the whole world were one country, Istanbul would have been its capital"

                                                                                  French leader Napoleon Bonaparte




Istanbul is an Immutable Intersection of Vas Mobilities According to many social scientists, if one city gets more or more important status in the global economic system, this city begins to be the world's first city. Access to this situation depends on some facilities such as comfort in geography, economy and political levels. "Saskia Sassin" Istanbul is the intersection of movement. It’s borders across the north, south, east and west axes of the world. This makes Istanbul more attractive to capital or international companies because doing business is always easy in cities with high transport facilities. We can see branches of companies all over the world in Istanbul. More than 60% of companies are sorted out in Istanbul. In this way, Istanbul enjoys great power in global economic relations. Large companies have a tendency to invest in Istanbul, meaning that there is a capital inflow from the world to Istanbul. The recent economic boom took place in Turkey between 2000 and 2009. Istanbul's growth this time was more planned, mostly through formal residential settlements developed jointly by the public and private sectors. Population increase is as large as the previous, in ten years the city has grown from 8.8 million to 13 million. This period also represents the full integration of the Turkish economy with world markets.


Istanbul is a Global Project of the Government  In the context of the accelerated negotiations on Turkey's membership with the EU, and the popularity of neo-liberalism within the AKP government, Istanbul has begun to show more confident, outward-oriented, globalization and liberalism, especially after the successful liberalization of the Turkish economy. It served as the gateway to the country and perhaps to the larger region. This decisive role cannot be jeopardized. Thus, the new understanding with Ankara facilitated the transition from an informal, largely unorganized and informalized globalization to a more formal and studied platform that invited global clients to networks in the city. After the political rise of the AKP to the central government in 2002, when Erdogan was then mayor of the city, Erdogan consolidated this strategy to put Istanbul on the world stage. Istanbul's political and ideological function mirrors itself with some central government bodies, such as the Comprehensive Housing Administration, which has direct links with the government. One of the most important political figures in Turkey is the mayor of Istanbul, in an effort to promote coordination between various departments of the Municipality of Istanbul to help develop the city master plan, the mayor established the Istanbul Center for Planning and Design. And aims to increase the importance of the municipality in the international level and the growth and creation of jobs and services necessary in the development of the city without losing its core values, which are famous by the world.


Istanbul a Global Capital with a New Look Istanbul, which entered as a city with an imperial legacy to the 20th century, emerged again in the 21st century as a world city on the world stage after a long delay. In the 2010 GaWC list, the city of Istanbul was classified as an "Alpha" city. The position of cities in the global economic grid will be determined by the service sector indicators in the studies conducted by GaWC. Alpha cities, which integrate large regional and national economies into the global economy, are described as important global cities. According to the norms of neo-liberal globalization, Istanbul is a success story.


It is a business platform for elite cross-border companies, as well as a playground for global consumers of global lifestyles. There are blocks of newly built high-rise administrative buildings, luxury residential complexes and towers, and dozens of shopping malls offering an urban shopping experience. The city has succeeded in displaying its incomparable cultural heritage, attracting an increasing number of tourists. The central areas have been embellished to present the decorations of global lifestyles.

Istanbul is an Attraction for Culture and Tourism The official initiatives embodied in the series of high-level international meetings and conferences have been an important dimension in the project of the globalization of Istanbul. But the most important thing is the government's desire is to attract global flows into the city, because Istanbul's economic success supports the claims of its liberal vision and is a constant series of art exhibitions, film festivals, theater, jazz and classical music on a scale that rivals any major European city. Such efforts from the central and local governments as well as the use of cultural assets and resources in Istanbul to improve the global image of the city, and thus the country emerged as the culmination of Istanbul as the cultural capital of Europe in 2010.


The recent master plan by Istanbul Municipality has achieved a lot of competitiveness during investment in culture to present a contemporary image of the city. Thus, concepts about "city branding" and "image marketing" have entered into the political vocabulary of the city. Istanbul's attempt to become a global "open city" involves transforming its image, creating what the city's mayor Kader Top describes as a city with a different attitude to the world. On the other hand, Saskia Saskin points out that the tourist is another measure of the globalization of cities. Istanbul, as everyone knows, is more important to some religious people as well as its historical and cultural features so that the artistic side of the tourist to come to Istanbul so that a large number of people in the world. This power of Istanbul comes from the cultural capital. Then in many ideas, most powerful cities are multi-national or multicultural cities of the world such as New York, London, etc. Ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity are other features in Istanbul, and the multiplicity of features or sources that facilitate the level of Istanbul in large cities.


Istanbul is the Capital of Mega Projects & investors One of ambitious programs set by Turkey in its strategic interests. Executing giant projects in Istanbul in an exceptional way to give it a deeper international dimension. It has introduced new concepts and philosophy into the re-planning of the city based on the exit of existing thought housing around the city center, and the shift to the thought of creating multi-center urban foci. This is seen in recent years in Istanbul such as Kartal, Maltip, Atashheer, Pashak Shahir, and Sisli Pomonti.


Istanbul is Turkey's passport to the European Union. The ambitious plans to establish linear sub-centers on both the eastern and western sides of the city allowed the city's sectors to work better. One formation on the Asian side of the city, in Kartal, is in its early stages through the dynamic master plan of the legendary architect “Zaha Hadid”, which is privately financed, has invested heavily in Istanbul, as mentioned above. With the help of some efficient speeches and mega projects, Istanbul has been able to reach the standards of the "City of the World" with effective functions of finance standards (banks, insurance, capital and real estate) and as a management center for international companies, transportation (active international airport, , Political and ideological function (the perfection of the state economy and the relations of society). Istanbul continues its steady pursuit of exceptional events (Olympics, World Exposition, concerts and conferences).

Istanbul, a Global Financial Center The former minister of environment and urban planning, Istanbul is a regional city in the first place, but ultimately a global financial center "DPT 2009". It has been planned to have Turkish and foreign financial institutions at a world-class financial center that will be established in an area that is wider than those in New York, London and Dubai. He also noted that the center has been planned in four main central areas, designed to symbolize the Anatolian side with the site and the project architecture. The second area, being the most important part of the complex, includes some buildings owned by the banks and the financial center. In the first area, there are many buildings belonging to private companies and audit firms. The third part consists of conference center hotels and residential areas, functions such as providing trading and continuity at the Grand Bazaar. The fourth circle is located around the first circle, which includes the structure of schools, mosques, police and fire that are defined as support and service units. The design of Center was inspired by the Grand Bazaar, which is the world's top financial center associated with its operation and the use of common spaces, and is also inspired by the design and imagination of  “ Topkapi” Palace.


which is the financial position of the highest in the world associated with running and the use of common spaces, which is considered to be the supreme financial center in the word also inspired by the design and imagine the Palace "Topkapi". At the center, a modern,  replica version of the Grand Bazaar will be made. It said to be that the project aims to establish an icon of the new city to make such spaces, live and work every time of the day.


Qualifying Features of Istanbul As Global City  We will highlight, as an example, but not limited, the following luminous aspects of Istanbul, worthy qualifying  the city to become a Global Capital:


  • According to the report of “ Istanbul on the World Stage”, Istanbul has been the most developed city over the past five years in a range of performance indicators, its economic fundamentals are stronger than many of its global cities
  • Istanbul on the World Stage” also reported, that Istanbul is now firmly located among Europe's four major cities - along with London, Moscow and Paris, despite the backdrop of mounting geopolitical risks,
  • Istanbul's Global Business Attraction Index is among the top 20 business centers in the world. Among its peers in the emerging world city, Istanbul stands out because it has improved as a reliable financial center, home to innovation and trade and to improving infrastructure
  • The unique cultural and cultural identity of Istanbul supports Istanbul's position among the top five destinations in the world, despite being exposed to security threats. Global connectivity is improving rapidly - and Istanbul is now the fastest growing passenger in the world
  • Istanbul was chosen as the "human capital" of the world by the International Humanitarian Forum, an initiative by religious and cultural activists from several countries. Istanbul is the first city to be awarded this title due to its overwhelming commitments to massive humanitarian projects
  • Istanbul has been recognized as the global capital of fashion by the leading fashion association in America. The Turkish fashion industry has been a leading complementary role in the global economy, actively exporting clothing products worth $ 18 billion a year
  • The expansion of the city's giant infrastructure, transforms Istanbul, and plays a key role in its economic dynamism
  • Istanbul is witnessing an impressive level of new construction. At the end of the current development cycle, the city is likely to be home to:


  • More than 5 million square meters of modern retail space, including many world-class shopping centers;
  • Nearly 7 million m2 of office spaces of first-class business, including new business areas such as the Istanbul International Financial Center;
  • About 9.5 million m2 of modern logistics space (across Greater Istanbul);
  • Over 56,000 hotel rooms in over 500 hotels.