Somali shops bring diversity to Turkish capital

An African restaurant in Ankara, Turkey on December 15, 2019. ( Evrim Aydın - Anadolu Agency )

Taking the opportunity of the rising number of their fellow nationals living in the Turkish capital, Somali entrepreneurs both earn and contribute to the country’s economy with various shops they opened in the city.

Due to similarities between Turkish and Somali nations, such as religion and cultural values, the number of Somali nationals coming to Turkey, especially from Europe, has been rising in recent years.

Coming to Turkey with purposes of education, health tourism, and investment, their first choice is the Ankara province, which has the highest Somali population in the country, as it offers easier transportation opportunities, besides being the nation’s capital.

newsinsdeSomalis, who especially love to spend time in the central Kızılay Square and open various offices and consultancy firms here, feel at home with many Somali restaurants, barbers, markets, and women hairdressers in different streets of the district, especially on the streets of Sümer 1 and Sümer 2.

Somali restaurants on demand

Restaurants that offer a combination of local flavors such as Somali rice with meat, pasta, and samosa attract great attention from Turkish and African customers, especially Somalis.

Mohammed Isse Abdullah, who is among the entrepreneurs that came to Turkey for education in 2012 and own businesses here, is a partner of two Somali restaurants in Ankara.

“There are almost 30 Somali workplaces on this street. Be it offices, consulting offices, barbershops, dress shops, and grocery stores. We think that this street may become a Somali street next year,” Abdullah said.

Considering that Somali people who do not speak Turkish have difficulty in communication in grocery shopping, Somali entrepreneurs opened the capital’s first Somali supermarket in March 2020.

Yahya Hasan Abdi opened the market in Ankara as the number of Somalis are on rise in the city.

In addition to Somali restaurants, men’s and women’s hair salons making African hairstyles are also very popular among Somalis in the capital.

Hamza Mahmud Muhammed, the owner of the first Somali barber in Ankara, Afro Hairdresser, said they are working with professional barbers coming from Somalia with 20 years of experience in the shop that has been open for over one year.

Muhammed said they also opened a hairdresser for African women living in Ankara about three months ago, and added that they have Turkish customers as well.

“They come for African braids,” he said, and expressed love for Turkey.