A visit to the most Arab of Turkish cities
March 7, 2014
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Our man formerly in Damascus, now Istanbul, John Wreford has a photo essay with words published in Your Middle East
Photographer John Wreford has been to a part of Turkey where the hotel manager only speaks Arabic.
I rapped the knocker a couple more times on the heavy wooden door of the hotel and waited, as I blew on my freezing fingers and my breath hung in the musty air like an ominous rain cloud. It was early evening but already the streets thick with the smell of wood smoke were deserted. It seemed much later when I rapped again, a little harder this time, and through the side window I could see an old man hobbling towards the door.
He welcomes me inside and as I am telling him I have a booking he interrupts to say he only speaks Arabic. Off the beaten track in Turkey it’s hardly a surprise to find English a struggle and anyone even remotely familiar with the country would know that the Kurds have their own language – but Arabic?
Well, yes – this is Antakya and according to Syrian maps it is still part of the Arab Republic. Culture and identity rarely recognizes borders and the Hatay province of Turkey merges seamlessly with that of its Arab neighbors. See more pictures and read more here