Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to correct all news reporters and journalists who think his brand-new palace has 1,000 rooms.
The actual number is way more than that.
"It does not have 1,000 rooms. It has more than 1,150 rooms," Erdogan said while speaking at a business meeting in Istanbul on Saturday, stressing that it is "the nation's palace" and not his own.
The audacious leader further claimed that Buckingham Palace in London cost British taxpayers almost $8 billion and no one seemed to have a problem with it.
"Buckingham Palace was restored for £5 billion, or around $7-8 billion. And they have many other palaces like that," he added, adding “jealous” critics "do not want to see growth in Turkey."
The now-controversial presidential palace in Ankara was inaugurated in October and costs around $615 million. Atilla Yesilada, an economist at GlobalSource Partners, said the palace proves Erdogan’s “increasing sense of being above the country he governs and the rule of law. Whoever criticizes Erdogan and the ruling elite’s behavior is labeled a betrayer of the nation.”
As smug as the recent statement about the rooms might sound to some, it’s not really shocking coming from Erdogan – someone who has often been called a “modern day sultan” by many of his own people.
Just last month, he prompted international outrage after he said that men and women are not equal because of their biological differences.
Last year’s protests in Turkey – which were supposedly the most challenging events for Erdogan’s 10-year term and the most significant nationwide unrest in decades – didn’t have any significant effect on the embattled president’s reputation.
Case in point: Erdogan made history earlier in August when he won the first direct election of a president (which was previously elected by MPs in the Turkish parliament). He received 52 percent of the votes. Before that, his Justice and Development Party won handsomely in March's regional elections, a victory which is yet another indicator of Erdogan’s undimmed popularity despite massive opposition.