Turkey 2010 Notes

23 January 2010

Last week, I visited Istanbul, where I was speaking on a panel at the 3rd International Corporate Governance Conference. The topic was corporate governance and competitiveness and the panel was chaired by Judge Mervyn King, author of the King Report on Corporate Governance in South Africa.

Although I have previously shared a panel with Mervyn King (at an event during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development), this time I also had the chance to interview and have dinner with him, which was a treat. I like his quiet, thoughtful yet authoritative demeanour and it was great to get some insights into the mind behind the King Code.

I’m not sure Istanbul quite lives up to its travel promo blurb of being ‘the most inspiring city in the world’ – perhaps because of the wet, chilly weather this time of year, and perhaps because I have been spoiled by my other travels. But it certainly is a city with a rich, long and significant history.

It is hard not to be impressed by its great mosques, but what I liked the most were the church-mosque hybrids. The remnants of the opulent rule of the Sultans (including the 86 carat diamond I saw in the palace) are full of glitz and glamour, but failed to move me.

The food is of course delicious – my favourite was haloumi wrapped and char grilled in vine leaves, although their baklava and Turkish delight were also, well, delightful. Next time, I hope to visit some of the archaeological sites beyond the city in the outer regions of Anatolia.

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