February 05, 2012

Istanbul Restaurants Change Tune – And Language – to Woo Big-Spending Arabs

In the Turkish restaurants around Taksim Square in Istanbul, the menus are getting a new look. It's not so much the food that is changing but the languages, as more and more restaurateurs choose to include Arabic.


Erkan Ali Karabulut, manager of Cafe Eylül in the touristic Talimhane district near the square, is reprinting his menus this year. "If you speak Arabic with Arabic tourists, they see you as a friend, and feel more comfortable," he said.

"But sometimes I get negative reactions from Turks. 'Why is everything here in Arabic?' they ask." Pointing to the list of MP3 songs on his laptop, he added: "I now play English music, as a compromise. But in the evenings, it's all Arabic."

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