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Feb 5, 2023

The New Istanbul Canal Project

What is the New Istanbul Canal? In Turkish: (Kanal İstanbul), it is a waterway that connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, as well as the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. So that the canal cuts through the European side of Istanbul. Thus, it will form an island between the continents of Asia and Europe (an island with beaches on the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the new canal and the Bosphorus). The length of the canal is 45-50 km, its depth is 21m, and its width is 275-360m. These dimensions allow even the largest ships and submarines to pass through. A number of Turkish experts consider this project is more important, in the future, than international canals such as the Suez Canal and the Panama Canal.

The new Istanbul Canal project includes constructing ports, bridges, logistics centers and 3 artificial islands to integrate with the needs of the canal, using the excavated soil of the canal. In addition to constructing new earthquake-resistant residential areas along the canal. Halkali-Kapikule high-speed train and TCDD train projects will also be integrated within this project.

Project preparations:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan officially announced the "Istanbul Canal" project during a rally held on the occasion of the 2011 general elections, when he was prime minister at the time. In January 2013, the Turkish government announced that research studies on the new canal project would begin in May of the same year. In April 2013, the first phase of the project began, which includes the construction of several network bridges and highways. Construction was supposed to start by December 2019, but it was postponed due to the closure that occurred in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But Turkish President Erdoğan confirmed that the project's bidding request will be published in early 2020. In January 2020, the Ministry of Environment approved the final version of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Istanbul Canal project.

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The cost of the project:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Istanbul municipality officials stated that the construction of the Istanbul Canal will cost $10 billion. The central government offered a build-operate-transfer model to implement the project, but stated that the national budget would be used if necessary.

It is expected that the tenders for opening the canal will be awarded to Chinese companies, especially since China has been trying, since the beginning of 2020, to put forward offers to acquire the project. This is after developing the Turkish-Chinese relations, so that the Chinese ambassador to Ankara, Deng Li, said: "There are about 1,000 Chinese companies currently operating in Turkey."

What is the goal behind building the New Istanbul Canal?

The aim of building the new Istanbul Canal is to ease traffic in the Bosphorus Strait. It is expected that its capacity will be 160 ships per day, in contrast to the current capacity of traffic through the Bosphorus Strait, where ships are left standing in lines for days to cross the strait, due to traffic congestion. However, some experts suggested that the main reason behind building the canal is to bypass the Montreux Convention, which limits the number and tons of ships of countries not bordering the Black Sea that can enter through the Bosphorus Strait.

Scientific study of the project:

According to the Ministry of Infrastructure, 7 Turkish universities, among the best in the country, in addition to 200 academics have studied the canal project. Those, in turn, carried out measurements that included 97 points in order to protect the environment and excavations amounted to 17 thousand square meters in 304 different points, including 8 points for groundwater, and 17 points for hydrological study, through 56 institutions to prepare the environmental report for the project, while the tests were carried out in Turkish and French laboratories. The statement of the Ministry of Infrastructure indicated that the studies conducted on the canal project were in various disciplines, including: earthquake analysis, urban planning, economics, cultural heritage, environment and traffic management.

Project benefits:


One of the most important benefits of the construction of the new Istanbul Canal is being eco-friendly, because it will reduce the pollution rate resulting from the passage, accumulation and crowding of a large number of ships from the heart of Istanbul, at the Bosphorus Strait. Also, it reduces the risks associated with tankers; annually, about 41,000 ships of all sizes pass through the Bosphorus Strait, including 8,000 tankers carrying 145 million tons of crude oil. Increasing international pressure by rising the load of maritime traffic increases the risks to the security of maritime navigation during the passage. The residential units that will be built in the project will also be earthquake-resistant by constructing new earthquake-resistant residential areas along the canal. In addition, the presence of the new canal will avoid the water currents in the Bosphorus Strait, which raise the risk of collision between ships in the strait.

New tourist areas:

The Turkish government is seeking to transform the Bosphorus Strait into a new tourist area, including resorts and centers related to water sports as it is the focus of the world's attention due to the beauty of its nature and the historical monuments it contains. In addition to the fact that the canal connects several seas: the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

What does the New Istanbul Canal mean to the Turkish economy?:

The new canal project will enhance Turkey's economy to become one of the 10 most powerful economies in the world. It will also be able to compensate for the money that it was deprived of due to the "Montreux" agreement in 1936, which deprived Turkey of obtaining billions of dollars annually, due to the reduced price of passage for ships that cross from the Bosphorus Strait. Turkey will earn about $10 billion annually from the new canal. It is expected that the price of passage through the canal will cost about $6 for every 1 ton of ship tonnage. In addition, enhancing tourism will improve the Turkish economy, which in turn will witness a major transformation due to the huge projects that will be established by Turkish and foreign investors and businessmen in the region. As for the global economy, the competition will be international because the new channel aims to transfer trade between China and Europe from the southern axis. Which will increase Turkey's ability to economically compete and attract international trade, especially with the completion of the Iron Silk Road project. Thus, Istanbul will effectively transform into a global center for international trade.

It is worth mentioning that studies on the project show that approximately 8-10k people will be employed during the construction phase of the project, and 500-800 people during the operation phase, which will contribute to reducing the unemployment rate.

Real estate benefits:

The Turkish real estate market's share of the benefit of the new canal will be large, as the real estate that will be built near the canal will be a high investment opportunity because real estate prices in the project area will be increasingly high, as the region will witness unprecedented government interest, especially that the government has spent billions of dollars on the project. Starting digging the canal in 2017 led construction companies in Turkey to race to build large projects near the canal, which led to an increase in the price of real estate in those areas by 50% within one year. It is also expected that real estate prices in those areas and their neighboring areas will double immediately after the completion of the construction of the canal. Therefore, we can say that real estate investment in the project area will be a well-deserved profitable investment for the following reasons:

  • Real estates in the area are close to a waterway connecting the new Istanbul Airport and the city center. They are also close to 3 artificial islands which will be built by excavated canal soil.
  • Real estate in the area will witness a large commercial movement because the new canal will target the commercial field, in the first place. Projects close to the canal will include apartments for sale in Istanbul by the sea.
  • The canal will be near the new Istanbul airport, thus the real estate privileges in the areas around the canal will double and increase.
  • The Istanbul Canal Project includes 6 bridges, one of which carries a railway, and 4 other bridges will be built within the project. 

Regions witnessing a rise in real estate prices due to its being including the canal area:

  • Ispartakule.
  • Kucukcekmece.
  • Avcilar.
  • Arnavutkoy.

Projects and services that will be built in these areas due to the construction of the new canal:

  • Logistics center near the water canal.
  • A large eco-friendly park around the canal.
  • 8 bridges over the canal to facilitate transportation between the two parts of the European side of Istanbul.
  • Artificial islands in the Sea of Marmara, to be built from the soil of the canal.
  • Modern smart cities equipped with all necessary services such as hospitals, schools, commercial, educational and tourism centers.
  • A large port on the Black Sea to enhance trade and transport.

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