By: David Munir Nabti @dmnabti

I was only in Istanbul a few days, and admittedly I only saw a small part of a small part of the city. The language confused me, the keyboard layout baffled me, the size of the city was astonishing, the politics intricate, and the economy complex. The traffic got as bad as anywhere I’ve seen, the taxis drove me on long detours to make a few extra lira, the clubs were crowded, some streets were so packed at night it was hard to walk around, and there was a subtle (sometimes not so subtle) sense of disorder. After hearing so much about the growing startup and tech scene in Istanbul, I frequently had trouble getting online, and on several occasions random SMS messages I sent never got delivered to the intended recipient. Many things seemed quickly hacked together. Other things seemed long-neglected. Many buildings were empty, and whole blocks looked long-abandoned. Many people complained of corruption and bureaucratic inefficiencies. Frequently when things worked out properly, I found myself breathing a sigh of relief.

And I can’t wait to go back.

Despite all those challenges, I met some amazing people, saw an amazing city, and got a glimpse into one of the pivot points that will shape the coming years, decade, and beyond, in our region, and around the world. The city is spectacular, almost out of a fairytale from an earlier era, and reminded me a lot of Damascus, supposedly one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. But while Damascus is big and truly an ancient and modern Arab city, Istanbul is huge, a massive metropolis that has distinct flavors of both “oriental” and “European”. From discussions with several bright […]