~ Building Awareness of Bermuda in the Middle East ~
“We must develop a clear strategy to build awareness in the Gulf Region, which has a proven track record of development success,” said Premier David Burt today, announcing the engagement of a policy advisor under the Cabinet Office to provide strategic advice to the Government of Bermuda on Middle East affairs.
“Previous administrations have pursued interests in the Gulf Region, and Bermuda has signed Double Taxation Agreements (Treaties) as well as MoU Trade Agreements with Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Former Premier and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Paula A. Cox, visited Bahrain with the CEO of Bermuda-based Apex Funds, where they took part in a Bahrain Financial services association and Bahrain stock exchange conference.
Premier Cox led a delegation to the UAE and Qatar, which included PWC, who, at that time, managed the Islamic Finance portfolio on behalf of the Government and the BMA. Following that visit, Qatar Re relocated to Bermuda.”
Bermuda was the first country outside the Islamic world to launch a Sharia-Compliant Bond. In 2012/13, former Premier Craig Cannonier participated in a ministerial roundtable with participating Islamic Banks, chaired by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Sajid Javid MP, and gave a speech at the World Islamic Economic Forum in London announcing Bermuda’s first Islamic bond.
In 2019, Premier David Burt re-engaged representatives of countries in the Gulf Region during an official visit to Brussels as the Government looked to expand relations outside of North America and Europe. The Premier held a meeting with the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to discuss investment opportunities in Bermuda and the strengthening of economic relations between the UAE and Bermuda.
Additionally Premier Burt met with the Head of Mission for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to the EU where he also discussed potential investment opportunities in Bermuda and the strengthening of relations with countries in the GCC.
Premier Burt continued, “In order to establish a Bermuda Government representative presence in the Region, the UK Government has been requested through Government House to approve the appointment of a representative under the terms of the existing Entrustment which regulates the Government of Bermuda’s conduct of activities in foreign countries. We are working with Government House on this, and I took the opportunity in my recent meetings in London to confirm Bermuda’s interest in establishing such a representative presence, recognising there are precedents with other Overseas Territories pursuing similar interests abroad.”
Ms. Alexia Hefti, Esq. has been engaged as the advisor pending the UK Government’s approval of an appointment as a Government of Bermuda representative in the Region. Ms. Hefti is a member of the New York Bar and holds a Bachelor of Laws in Common and Civil Law from McGill University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from the University of British Columbia.
Ms. Hefti has been based in the Middle East for several years and has engaged with governments, the Gulf Cooperation Council and multilateral financial institutions in the region, as well as globally. She is a sought-after panelist and contributor on government innovation and the use of technology for the empowerment of citizens, particularly in emerging markets. She is the founder of eGovern, Chairman of the Abed Group and a Board Member of Hut 8, a Nasdaq and Toronto Stock Exchange-listed company.
Premier Burt concluded, “To realise the full scope of opportunities presented by this exciting Region, Bermuda must advance in a strategic and targeted way, building relationships with a Region that values the very business environment that has made us a successful and trusted jurisdiction for investment and trade globally.”
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