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Turkey news: Istanbul Banksy exhibition courts contraversy

Refugee children in Kilis

Turkish town of Kilis nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

A small town in Turkey has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize thanks to its open-armed approach to refugees fleeing Syria.

Kilis, which is just a few miles from the Syrian border, plays host to refugees fleeing war and destruction in their own country - and the 100,000 or so refugees outnumber locals by many thousands.

Locals work hard to provide some semblance of life for the refugees, with a school, healthcare facilities and container shelters.

Kilis’s work with the refugees motivated the deputy head of the ruling AKP party, Ayhan Sefer Ustun, to nominate the town for the Nobel Peace Prize.

"People share their jobs, houses, trades and social spaces [with Syrian refugees]. I suppose that such an example of an act of mass peace does not exist in the world,” Sefer wrote in his letter to the Nobel committee..

"What would happen if 2.5 million refugees, who fled the war, would come to Paris where 2.5 million people live? What would the British think and do if 3 million refugees, who fled the war or natural disaster for shelter, came to London, which has a population of more than 3 million? What would their criteria for tolerance and understanding be in such a case?”

One reason refugees have been accepted in Kilis is that they’re contributing to the local economy, with business owners benefitting from the influx of people and money. But even those who don’t directly benefit have been supportive.

“They are running away from a war, they are running away from problems, so they aren’t trying to make problems here,” said Bushra, who works in a school for Syrian and Turkish children.

But as airstrikes reach a peak with a Russian-backed offensive on Aleppo, it’s unclear as to whether Kilis will be able to maintain the present harmony.

Turkey has accepted more refugees than any other country - currently 2.5 million - and has spent billions of dollars building camps and providing care.

The EU has pledged 3 billion euros to help Turkey with the crisis, but Turkish officials are wondering how to cope with the influx, which shows no sign of slowing.

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Grand Bazaar due a facelift

The Grand Bazaar, one of Istanbul’s most visited attractions and one of the oldest markets in the world, is set for a huge restoration, say Turkish authorities.

The mayor of Fatih District Mustafa Demir, told The Associate Press project to restore the huge centuries-old complex could take up to a decade and cost $55 million.

Shopkeepers, who say that many of the 4500 shops and restaurants have deteriorated over the years, are looking forward to the renovation, but hope the restoration will not change the character of the iconic Istanbul market.

Banksy refugee art

Unauthorised Istanbul Banksy exhibition to include fake shop

Work of British street artist Banksy, famous for his political graffiti - and his longstanding anonymity - is the focus of an unauthorised retrospective in Istanbul, which includes a fake gift shop.

“The Art of Banksy” is organised by the artist’s ex-agent, Steve Lazarides, in conjunction with a handful of Turkish businessmen and the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

The work comprises more than 80 original works, garnered from collectors, and the strangeness of the opening - which featured actors dressed as some of Banksy’s most famous images - had many wondering if the exhibition was a Banksy parody, like his anti-theme park “Dismaland”, last year’s subversive version of a theme park.

However, Banksy has nothing to do with the exhibition. The chief executive of Istanbul Entertainment Group Kemal Gurkaynak said the exhibition was merely a tribute to the artist, adding that he would like to bring Banksy to the masses.

“My aim is to make him more commercial and more commercial and more commercial,” Mr. Gürkaynak said.

The successful gift shop attached to the exhibition sells a wealth of Banksy-themed items: calendars, notebooks, stools, cufflinks and prints. The organisers hope the proceeds will help them take the show to European destinations like Berlin and Barcelona.

Banksy has long resisted the commercialisation of his work. A spokesperson for the artist said Banksy had no idea about the exhibition or the unauthorised shop until the day it opened. In 2010 the artist released a statement saying people were welcome to use any of his images for personal use, but warned that producing and selling Banksy merchandise was a criminal offence.

Attempting to mitigate any such offence, the gift shop makes it clear everything sold there is unauthorised, unofficial, or fake.

However, former agent Lazarides said Banksy would likely be unhappy about the show and the shop.

“I’m sure he’d quite happily drop me off on an ice floe somewhere,” he said. “But I’m not sure he wants to spend his career trying to chase down people making fridge magnets.”

Banksy will probably be hoping the show will have one positive outcome: highlighting the plight of Syrian refugees in Turkey, which has been a focus of Banksy’s recent work.

Justin Bieber and Madonna

Justin Bieber and Madonna tipped for Antalya

Big-name celebs like Madonna, Justin Bieber and Jennifer Lopez could perform in Antalya as part of EXPO 2016.

The huge event, which will start in April, will be a huge draw for tourists. The tourist industry has faced problems since the Russian sanctions of last November, which has caused a drop in the number of Russians visiting the region.

A tourism report is urging EXPO 2016 organisers to use the event to promote tourism in the area, and organise concerts with the likes of Madonna and Justin Bieber.

Other suggestions to pull tourists to the area included better PR work, more active marketing measures and tapping into new markets like China and India.

Submarine, Antalya

Submarine tours set to give Antalya tourism a boost

Tourists might soon experience a new view of Antalya: 130 feet below the waves on board a 48-seat submarine.

The Finnish-built vessel, named Nemo, could soon be offering underwater tours leaving from the seaside city of Alanya.

The company behind the $4 million scheme told Anadolu News Agency that they “wanted to bring a new and different alternative to the tourism sector.”

Tours will run throughout the year, and the company is hopeful of expansion, aiming to buy more submarines for tours in the Aegean and Marmara Seas.

The submarine will be a welcome addition to a region with many activities for tourists. Antalya receives more visitors than any other destination in Turkey, with the exception of Istanbul.


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