Our journey as Bilgili Group in the Turkish real estate market has been a long and exciting one. We have participated in our country's modernization and rebuilding process since the 1980's. During this time period we witnessed many market cycles and recessions, however the Turkish economy overcame those complex situations and emerged as one of the leading economies of the world.
Throughout our many years of Turkish real estate experience we were able to establish ourselves as one of the leading and most respected players in the market. We differentiated ourselves by being able to identify unique market opportunities and transform them into successful investments. Our strong relationships and experiences with international institutions have led us to structure our organization to meet the needs of global institutional investors.
Today, Turkey's macro economic outlook looks brighter than ever due to country's young population and stable growth pattern. Turkey has a population of over 73 million people with a median age of 29.7 years, including a significant consumer base. In 2011 the Turkish economy grew 8.5%, positioning itself as the second fastest growing economy after China. These economic figures have attracted numerous foreign investors.
Turkey has left its volatile economic cycles in the distant past. After a decade of continued growth and stability Turkey received its first sovereign investment grade rating since 1994 and is now considered one of the most attractive emerging markets for investment and development. We are within easy reach to 1.5 billion consumers in Europe, Middle East and Africa, as well as Asia. In 2011, Turkey was the sixth largest tourism destination in the world and fourth in Europe, with 29.3 million visitors. Furthermore, Istanbul was the eight most visited city in the world with more than 8 million international visitors. Being one of the leading players in the Turkish real estate and tourism sectors, we believe that this trend will increase over the medium term and we will continue to see attractive investment opportunities.
Observing the increase in institutional investor demand in the Turkish market we decided to establish a real estate private equity vehicle, to leverage our significant market knowledge and know-how and marry that with the specific needs and requirements of the institutional investor community.
BLG Capital is an independently managed private equity company focusing on investment opportunities in real estate assets and companies in Turkey and adjacent geographies. BLG Capital operates as a leading locally based, vertically integrated Turkish real estate investment and development platform for institutional and private investors.
Our successful track record (which includes landmark properties such as W Hotel Istanbul, Akaretler Row Houses, A'jia Hotel, Radisson Blu Conference & Airport Hotel, etc.) and high level of transparency has allowed us to complete the final closing of our first Fund with total commitments of EUR 142,350,000. BLG Capital is actively pursuing opportunistic investments in niche markets, including student accommodation, restoration and renovation of historical city center buildings, hospitality and mixed-use projects.
BLG Capital will continue to grow its real estate investment and development platform. Our relationship with our investors is based upon trust, transparency and profitability, and will continue to benefit both parties over the long term. That is why we focus heavily on aligning our interests with those of our investors. Our pipeline of investment opportunities will continue to focus on niche projects in Istanbul as well as secondary Turkish cities and the surrounding region. By continuing along this path we will secure our place as the leading Turkish real estate private equity firm and continue meeting the needs and requirements of our investors.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer