Government seeks to lure sovereign wealth funds
Guardian Business Reporter
Published: Oct 07, 2013
Three countries in the Middle East have expressed interest in investing in The Bahamas following recent bilateral discussions, Guardian Business can confirm.
While in New York for the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said he participated in bilateral discussions with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), recognizing that the Middle East and China are two areas that currently have a surplus in capital.
“They have large sovereign funds and the idea is to get them interested, not a hard sell but a soft sell in coming to see The Bahamas in order to see what we have to offer,” Mitchell said. “They are looking around for investments and projects.”
Mitchell pointed out how diplomatic relations were signed with Qatar, and The Bahamas is now in the process of further negotiations with both the UAE and Qatar.
“[In addition] to the technical cooperation between us, we will be looking at exploring the same issues with Saudi Arabia, all with a view to getting people interested in the opportunities which are available in our country,” he said.
“Here’s the situation. Right now, there is a net deficit of capital for expansion and development in this region. All countries in the region are looking to have surpluses of capital.
“All of our countries are basically putting before those countries and the parameters in which we operate, which is they must be known and close allies with the United States and the West. Thus, we have Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE as a starting point.”
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Tourism announced plans to expand its reach by attracting business from the UAE.
“They have had massive growth. Notwithstanding all of the other assets that they may have, there has been a heavy focus placed on its tourism industry,” according to Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.
Noting that the UAE is a “very interesting country”, the minister said the world has changed. Whereas countries in the Middle East used to be more out of reach, it is now possible to do business in an efficient manner through 21st century technology.
“In spite of the fact that they have oil and everything, they have turned to tourism,” Wilchcombe added. “It just speaks to the fact that we are right and it is a formidable industry and it has the strength to cause countries to grow.”