Diplomatic encounters: Positive discrimination and more

Elif Comoglu Ulgen, former Consul General of the Republic of Turkey to the UAE, speaks about positive discrimination and more

By Suchitra Steven Samuel (suchitra@khaleejtimes.com)

Published: Tue 31 Dec 2013, 3:31 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 3:26 PM

Elif Comoglu Ulgen, former Consul General of the Republic of Turkey to the UAE. — KT photo by Mukesh Kamal

Elif Comoglu Ulgen, former Consul General of the Republic of Turkey to the UAE. — KT photo by Mukesh Kamal

Elif Comoglu Ulgen, former Consul General of the Republic of Turkey to the UAE, has donned several hats. She started her duty in Dubai in January 2012. Before this posting, Elif was the first counsellor at the Turkish Mission in NATO in Brussels and was in charge of the military operations there. She was the Head of Department in Ankara at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of Disarmament and Arms Control in all Military and Defence Affairs. Earlier, Elif was at the Turkish Mission to the EU and the UN in Geneva. Her first posting was in Islamabad. “Dubai comes after all these countries and bilateral and multilateral postings. Of these, Dubai is really formidable. In fact, all of them have been great posts but I feel comfortable here at this age and with three children. Dubai is really amazing,” she speaks of more than 20 years of her experience in diplomatic service in an interview with Khaleej Times.

In the last two years, a major success in bilateral relations was after the visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul in 2012, which was quickly reciprocated by the visit of General Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed forces. “These two visits gave an impetus over the last two years and I was very lucky to be able to sit as the Turkish Consul General during this period. Particularly, we could see a boost in the economic relationship. There were a lot of interactions, more commercial delegations to and fro. As consul general, I received a number of Turkish ministers coming to Dubai and Northern Emirates. Last year in February, we hosted the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sharjah. He came as a special guest upon the invitation of the Ruler of Sharjah and addressed the Sharjah media. It was really an impressive visit. These visits really help a lot and we look forward to more state high-level visits.”

Besides Elif informs, “Business-wise, we have a number of Turkish companies who have been given good opportunities to showcase their abilities here. TAV is a good example in Abu Dhabi. Very soon they will start construction in Dubai. Another Turkish company will be soon taking up a role in the Dubai Water Canal Project, which was very recently launched.

“When it comes to solid landmarks particularly in a city like Dubai we should be talking of Turkish brands. The Turkish hotel on the Palm Rixos is performing successfully. We are looking forward to its second branch in Ras Al Khaimah to be launched early next year and hopefully another one coming in Dubai Marina in a couple of years’ time. We want to encourage more and more Turkish retail brands in Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates.”

In the last couple of years, Elif has been witnessing and personally tasting food at a number of Turkish restaurants opening up in Dubai. “These things bring us closer to each other because when I talk to our local partners, they are very happy to go to Turkey and taste the delicious food and try to bring it back over here.”

Her only challenge, she says, is to do more to strengthen Turkey-UAE ties. “I am currently the only female consul general, which is a positive discrimination that I enjoy and appreciate. Our challenge is to do better than the previous year. Every year is a success in itself.”

Dubai is a city that attracts brands from all over the world. From a Turkish perspective, Elif wants to see more Turkish brands introduced into Dubai and make them more common to not only the locals but the 200-plus communities that live in Dubai in a happy secure ambience.

She would like to see more and more interaction between the people. A number of airlines such as Turkish airlines, Emirates, Air Arabia, Fly Dubai, Pegasus, etc. are flying to Turkey. Flights are all performing quite well which means they are carrying a lot of people from here to there. They are ambassadors of their respective country and we learn more from each other.

“I will be leaving at the end of the year when I complete my full fledged two-year term. It has been a great time for me when I got to know this beautiful country that has a culture very similar to ours. I am very grateful for the hospitality extended to me and for all that this beautiful city has offered me,” she concludes.

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