For centuries, Istanbul lured intrepid shoppers with colorful jewellery and carpets which tumbled from shops in the ancient alleyways of the Grand Bazaar.
Today, the city's affluent young middle-class is embracing a different kind of shopping experience in giant glass-and-chrome malls, whose rise strikingly illustrates Turkey's emerging prosperity, but also spotlights some economic frailties.
Shopping malls are sprouting across Istanbul at a dizzying pace, with foreign money attracted by Turkey's large, young and growing population of over 70 million. According to official data, per capita income surged to $9,333 in 2007 from $7,500 a year earlier and is expected to continue rising strongly.
"Organized retailing is coming alive and competition is growing, to the consumer's advantage. The choice of brands is increasing and quality is rising," said Turan Ozbahceci, chairman of PERDER, an Istanbul Retailers' Association.