WORLD EXPO $5 MIL. BILL: OPM defends Bahamas delegation’s travel to Dubai

  • UAE funded $3.4M to cover pavilion, cost of PM delegation

  • Cabinet approved $1M

  • Private Sector funded 500k

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Up to $1 million was approved by Cabinet to support the country’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, UAE, according to Communications Director in the Office of the Prime Minister Latrae Rahming.

In a statement, Rahming underscored the sum is considerably lower than the $1.7 million approved by the former Minnis administration.

Rahming defended the government’s delegation to the global cultural exchange Expo 2020 Dubai, UAE, as a “justified investment”.

He explained Prime Minister Philip Davis departed for the United Arab Emirates yesterday to attend Expo 2020 at the invitation of the Royal Family but to also hold a series of bilateral trade meetings.

Davis’ visit will coincide with the celebration of Bahamas National Day at the Expo on Monday.

Rahming said Davis has arranged several “crucial” meetings to secure key investments with negotiations on two ‘Memoranda of Agreements’ also expected to be conducted before the prime minister returns next Tuesday.

Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis and a delegation are seen off by Deputy Prime Minister Chester Cooper and Acting Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander as they head to the Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday, January 14, 2022. (BIS/KEMUEL STUBBS)

The delegation for the expo has been criticized as very large, comprising of Bahamian choirs, bands, musicians and cultural artisans.

  1. Among them included a Junkanoo Group, The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, The Bahamas All-Stars Band and the Shaback Choir, a group led by Press Secretary Clint Watson.

“The purpose of this event is to display the capacity of our country on a cultural side and on a technological side,” he said.

“We believe and we maintain our view that we are going to give The Bahamas the exposure required on the global stage.

“It is a justified investment when we give our people exposure on the world stage so people could see the talent.

“If we could produce per capita the largest amount of athletes and we could produce a Sir Sidney Poitier, we could make a significant investment in letting the world see that talent.”

Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis and the delegation traveled to Dubai yesterday.

Among the 192 country pavilions, The Bahamas will be showcasing the best in Bahamian culture, music and food from October 2021 to March 2022. 

“The first floor of the pavilion displays the beauty of Bahamian culture and navigates sustainable futures for the island nation, the second floor’s Embassy for Business is primarily concerned with cultivating opportunities for international investment and partnerships,” Rahming said.

Rahming said the Bahamas pavilion attracted more than a quarter of a million visitors in its first month, with some 10 million more anticipated to follow over the course of the Expo’s six-month run.

Hundreds of commercial representatives” have expressed interest in doing business in The Bahamas, he said.

He explained the former FNM administration agreed to support the country’s participation at the expo, which included a public-private partnership with Expo Organizers Janet Johnson, Ambassador Tony Joudi, and Michael Diggiss.

Rahming further noted the support was expressed iIn an April 2019 letter from the Director of Investments of the Bahamas Investment Authority, who recognized the opportunity to merge trade and investment promotions and to increase foreign direct investment.

“As part of the FNM government’s support for Bahamian participation in the Expo, former FNM Ministers Ellsworth Johnson, Lanisha Rolle, and Darren Henfield variously made several visits to Dubai, with large delegations in support,” Rahming said.

Rahming said the Expo organizers requested funding from the Davis administration to support both the opening of The Bahamas Pavilion and Bahamas National Day.

“Because of the millions invested to date, in order to ensure that The Bahamas’ reputation was protected and promoted, and in order to maintain good relations with the government of the UAE, Cabinet agreed to support the country’s presence at Expo up to a maximum of $1 million. This figure is budgeted to cover expenditure for the duration of Expo.”

Rahming added that the prime minister’s travel and the expo itself are being sponsored by the UAE government, while the government bears the costs for Bahamians to participate.

Key meetings for the prime minieter in Dubai include:

  •  Khalid Al Mulla (owner of Sheraton Creek, Ritz Carlton, Crowne Plaza, Ramada and Holiday Inn Express hotels; owner of The American Hospital; owner of Almulla Plaza Shopping & Residential Complex)
  • Jetex (owner of one of the biggest private aviation companies in the Middle East)
  • Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Group
  • The UAE Minister of The Interior