Turks in Saudi Arabia
A group of Turkish pilgrims at Jabal Thawr to perform umrah
Total population
Turkish Arabian minority (i.e. Ottoman descendants only):
150,000 (1993 est.)[1]
Plus modern Turkish immigrants:
est. 270,000-350,000
Regions with significant populations
Riyadh, Jeddah, Mecca
Sunni Islam
Related ethnic groups
Turkish diaspora

Turks in Saudi Arabia also referred to as Turkish Arabians, Turkish Saudi Arabians, Saudi Arabian Turks, Arabian Turks or Saudi Turks (Turkish: Suudi Arabistan Türkleri, Arabic: الأتراك في السعودية) refers to ethnic Turkish people living in Saudi Arabia. The majority of Arabian Turks descend from Ottoman settlers who arrived in the region during the Ottoman rule of Arabia. Most Ottoman Turkish descendants in Saudi Arabia trace their roots to Anatolia; however, some ethnic Turks also came from the Balkans, Cyprus, the Levant, North Africa and other regions which had significant Turkish communities. In addition to Ottoman settlement policies, Turkish pilgrims to Mecca and Medina often settled down in the area permanently.

There has also been modern migration to Saudi Arabia from the Republic of Turkey as well as other modern nation-states which were once part of the Ottoman Empire.


Ottoman Turkish migration

Turks have had a presence in the western Arabian peninsula for hundreds of years, culminating in the Ottoman conquest of the Hejaz in 1517. After the Great Arab Revolt and the decline of the Ottoman Empire, a Turkish minority remained in the newly founded Saudi Kingdom.

Modern Turkish migration

Starting in the 1970s, economic relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia grew.[5] In 1977, there was 6,500 Turks in Saudi Arabia, 5,000 of which were officially reported workers.[6][7][8][9]

Emigration of Turkish workers to Saudi Arabia[10][11]
Year Population
1961–1973 4
1974–1980 26,739
1981–2023 986,754
1991–1995 150,654
2000-2023 925,789


As per argaam, Turkish nationals workers were around 25,000 people, which represents around 0.20% of total population. There are some 8,100 Turkish-operated hairdresser shops, 4,200 restaurants, and 2,900 furniture stores in Saudi Arabia.[12]


During the 2017 Turkish constitutional referendum, more than 8,000 Turkish expats from Saudi Arabia cast votes whether Turkey should abolish its parliamentary system and become a presidential republic.[13] 58.34% of the Turkish expatriates in Saudi Arabia opted for "No", while 41.66% voted for "Yes". The yes vote was concentrated in Jeddah and the Western Region, while in Riyadh no was the dominant choice. The no vote was significantly higher compared to votes of several European Turkish expat communities.[14]


Turkish people living in Saudi Arabia are Sunni Muslims. Turkish laborers returning from Riyadh seem to be less likely to espouse Shariah (Islamic law) than those living in European countries.[15]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ Akar, Metin (1993), "Fas Arapçasında Osmanlı Türkçesinden Alınmış Kelimeler", Türklük Araştırmaları Dergisi, 7: 94–95
  2. ^ Harzig, Juteau & Schmitt 2006, 67
  3. ^ Koslowski 2004, 41.
  4. ^ Karpat 2004, 12.
  5. ^ Fuller 2008, 125.
  6. ^ Hale 1981, 249.
  7. ^ Sirageldin 2003, 236.
  8. ^ Jung & Piccoli 2001, 140.
  9. ^ Unan 2009, 43.
  10. ^ Papademetriou & Martin 1991, 120.
  11. ^ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 1997, 165.
  12. ^ Ergener 2002, 76.
  13. ^ "More than 1 million Turkish expats vote in charter referendum - Turkey News". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  14. ^ "Referendum divides Turkish expats". Saudigazette. 2017-04-18. Retrieved 2021-03-01.
  15. ^ Gerald Robbins. Fostering an Islamic Reformation. American Outlook, Spring 2002 issue.