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Govt Approved $1m To Support Bahamas Pavilion And 'Presence' In Dubai

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

THE Davis administration approved up to $1m to support The Bahamas Pavilion and a Bahamian "presence" in Dubai, according to Director of Communications in the Office of the Prime Minister Latrae Rahming.

In a press statement released Friday, Mr Rahming said this was less than the $1.7m approved by the Cabinet of the previous administration.

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There was also funding from the private sector in the amount of $500,000 and the United Arab Emirates spent $3.5m, Mr Rahming said.

Additionally, he confirmed that not only was Shaback, a choir led by Press Secretary Clint Watson a part of the host of Bahamian performers, but the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, a Junkanoo group and the Bahamas All-Stars also made the trip.

The statement came amid backlash over the trip. Former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has said Bahamian contractors should have been paid instead of spending public funds on travel. He said there was a moratorium on travel under his leadership.

However, the statement noted that the previous government had agreed to support Bahamian participation at the Expo 2020 in Dubai, including by a public-private partnership with Expo Organizers Janet Johnson, Ambassador Tony Joudi, and Michael Diggiss.

In an April 2019 letter expressing the support of the government for Bahamian participation, the Director of Investments of the Bahamas Investment Authority recognised the opportunity to merge trade and investment promotions and to increase foreign direct investment, the statement went on to note.

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

Prime Minister Philip "Brave" Davis left the country on Friday to attend the world expo and bilateral meetings in Dubai.

"For the first time, The Bahamas will be participating in the world expo, showcasing its rich cultural history, exploring a sustainability-driven future, and highlighting its natural wonders," the statement said. "The nation’s pavilion, designed by Bahamian architects and cultural practitioners, is situated in the sustainability district, leaving the country well-positioned to attract viable developments in its blue, green, and orange economies.

"While 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. Hundreds of commercial representatives have already expressed interest in doing business in The Bahamas, a welcome result as the Prime Minister engages in high-level talks with diplomatic officials and investors in the coming days.

"In only the first month of Expo, The Bahamas saw over a quarter of a million visitors to its pavilion, with over 10 million more anticipated to follow over the course of the Expo’s six-month run."

Regarding the cost, Mr Rahming said: "The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) generously supported the presence of The Bahamas pavilion with $3.5 million.

"The private sector also offered support, with donations from private donors totaling half a million dollars. When the Expo opened in October 2021, the Expo organizers approached the new government requesting funds to support both the opening of The Bahamas Pavilion and Bahamas National Day which is set to take place on Monday, January 17, 2022.

"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, from October 2021 to March 2022.

"This represents a substantial reduction from the $1.7 million approved by the prior FNM government’s Cabinet.

"Because our New Day Administration recognises the significance of a number of potential investor relationships, and the potential mutual cooperation between our two countries in relation to climate change and sustainability, Prime Minister Davis accepted an invitation from the Royal Family and the Prime Minister of the UAE to attend Bahamas National Day at Expo in Dubai.

"PM Davis is especially grateful that the government of the UAE for offering to cover the costs of his delegation."

While visiting Dubai, Mr Davis has arranged a number of crucial meetings to secure some key investments and opportunities for The Bahamas.

These include meetings with:

• 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

Negotiations on two ‘Memoranda of Agreements’ will also be conducted and Prime Minister Davis will report on the meetings after he leaves Dubai on Tuesday, January 18.

In addition to the bilateral and trade meetings, Mr Davis will be supporting the cultural delegation, who will be showcasing Bahamian talent on Bahamas National Day, which is expected to enhance the country’s profile while at the same time providing an opportunity for international exposure for local artists.

Comments

TalRussell 2 weeks ago

Isn't this de same 2020 Expo Dubai was originally scheduled host de world for 182 days but got postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and everything else like this and that, still in a COVID-19 pandemic?
Presuming de 100+ accompanying government officials and personnel upon their reentry into de colony, will reside at a public space quarantine facility?
*Some costly tab upon PopoulacesPurse
to travel off colony to vacation over 182 days at such a luxury gold-plated destination, likes Dubai and, no comrades, imagine if youse tried make this up about public servants living de life up in Dubai luxury up, ― Yes?

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tribanon 1 week, 6 days ago

Why is the Director of Communications in the Office of the Prime Minister, Latrae Rahming, telling us, the Bahamian people, what was budgeted for this ridiculously outlandish event rather than telling us the actual total cost of this most lavish and squandering event? Is he doing so because they failed to keep track of the actual costs, which no doubt greatly exceeded the budgeted amount?

Also, it's unseemly that Rahming would try justify our financially strapped country participating to such a great pretentious extent in this very costly Dubai extravaganza by basically saying the last FNM government did it so now we get to do it too. Clearly Latrae Rahming doesn't have too much upstairs!

Poor, down-trodden and struggling Bahamians are being played as fools by this Davis-led PLP administration. The spendthrift political elite are unabashedly living an ostentatious and extravagant life-style at the expense of the vast majority of Bahamians. And to think our financially strapped country has public school facilities and public health facilities that are starved of desperately needed financial resources.

Make no mistake about it, participating as it did in this most costly Dubai event was a disgracefully cruel act committed by the Davis-led PLP administration against the interests of the vast majority of suffering Bahamians.

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DontAssume 1 week, 6 days ago

@tribanon "Make no mistake about it, participating as it did in this most costly Dubai event was a disgracefully cruel act committed by the Davis-led PLP administration against the interests of the vast majority of suffering Bahamians." Very well said! There is nothing "New" about this Day's government...absolutely nothing!

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 6 days ago

Yes there's a huge difference between what was budgeted and what was spent and where it was spent

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 6 days ago

"The themes of Expo Dubai will include OPPORTUNITY – freeing the potential of individuals and communities to create a better future, MOBILITY – innovative logistics, transport and communication systems for people, goods and ideas, SUSTAINABILITY – accessibility and resilience of environmental, energy and water resources."

I have no problem with participation in the expo at all or the money spent. It is a tremendous opportunity for any business registered to showcase products and for the govt to establish business ties. What I have a major problem with is the lack of innovation. If all you tell them about is straw bag and junkanoo that's all you gone get back. And this doesnt fall on the Davis administration, this falls on the Minnis administration, shooting himself in the foot yet again, because this would have taken strategy and planning over multiple years. Davis has only been in 4 months he has to go with what he's got at this point. .

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tribanon 1 week, 6 days ago

Expo Dubai was about the government of Dubai showcasing and selling Dubai to the world. Our government should be showcasing and selling the Bahamas to the world.

The money squandered by the Davis-led PLP administration on Expo Dubai could and should have been much better spent on so many other things that would have been of actual benefit to the Bahamian people, including possibly even an Expo Bahamas!

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 6 days ago

A wise man one said to me, dont be mad when the man come with his agenda, that's his job, make sure you have yours

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annmon 1 week, 5 days ago

WOW!! Anything to blame Dr. Minnis right?!!! PM Davis had quite enough time along with his Ministers and Ministries to revamp and get their people together AND their own budget to go to Dubai...so give the lack of innovation to whom it belongs to and it certainly isn't the outgoing Gov't in this case...and no I am not an FNM nor am I a PLP....just a Bahamian who's tired of this petty politics

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 5 days ago

No, not "Wow", and not "anything to blame Dr Minnis". In reality they started planning for this expo more than a year in advance (at least). You cannot just wake up 4 months ahead and pull everything together. If you cant realize that youve never had to conduct a planning exercise. Check the sustainability objectives I mention in the next note, you'd be fooling yourself talking about preparing in 4 months. Each by itself is a multiyear project

Btw Im not FNM or PLP either. In fact, on the evening of May 10th 2017 I said to a friend, for the first time in a long time I have hope... Ive since apologized to @Tal and @tribanon

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 6 days ago

The themes of the expo were clear, yet noone's said anything about Bahamian innovations and innovative approaches to empower people disadvantaged for decades or bolster our infrastructure. In 2022, we still showing them that we could create straw bags and dance. Again, nothing wrong with showcasing beautiful talent but we have brains in this country. Showcase that. Why didnt MINNIS have a national competition to select the best innovations?

We are in the sustainability quadrant. We could have featured the company growing coral, we could have talked about innovative island style approaches and plans to regrow mangroves, construct drainage systems to correct decades old flooding problems in the country, plans to ensure every home had running water and proper sewerage systems, plans to redistrict and beautify Nasssau, plans to revive GB Abaco and Ragged Island all devastated by monster hurricanes and get investors on board with that. Those are sustainability goals, thats what they wanted to hear. Instead we sent a marching band. And you cant just speak the idea you have to spend years actually creating a path to a viable solution and demonstrating how the solution has an impact on the lives of Bahamians at large. Minnis was busy trying to sell off nature reserves to Oban and oil drilling rights to BPC

We cant grow this country just by listening to "young" people, only 450k of us, we need everybody involved

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jamesg30 1 week, 6 days ago

What an incredible waste of money. Fred loves F-1 and especially Dubai. The most expensive F-1 race to attend in the world. More expensive than Monaco. Just an excuse to go have some Fred and Brave fun on our dime. Pathetic and so obvious. Have fun boys!!!! You deserve it after all your hard work! We are chumps. Let's track how much business/money the bring back to the country of the Bahamas. They won't. It will be weight gain and hangovers from all the fine wine we are paying for.

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bahamianson 1 week, 6 days ago

Shaback is a christian group. Are muslims going to listen to them? shaback going was a waste of money and clint watson may have abused his power to take them. The fnm should jump all over this. Clint watson had no authority to take his christian group because he is in government..

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 6 days ago

the whole world is in the Dubai, Christians, muslims buddhists, atheists..

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B_I_D___ 1 week, 5 days ago

Flyin' Fred back in town, Travel budget gonna go ballastic.

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Sickened 1 week, 4 days ago

I think we should send fresh conch salad to Dubai each and every day. It's only money.

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M0J0 1 week, 4 days ago

I think it was a great opp. for a small country to show some of its talents and things that we offer. Not everyone could go, and I think we need to become more supportive as a people and stop always complaining or finding fault. I can assure you the prev.gov. was surely going, but not one person other than their crew and sweeties would have been on that flight. We have a few whom have a great opp. and I hope exposure comes from the event , maybe one of those sheiks come down and spend some oil bucks bringing something new and innovative to our waters.

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ThisIsOurs 1 week, 4 days ago

"Finding fault". According to Michael Diggiss the Project Manager for the Dubai Pavilion. The objective was a demonstration of innovations around sustainability. The Bahamas looked at all the sectors and decided on that. Hence their placement in the Sustainability Quadrant. Nothing to do with whether we did a good job "displaying culture". When you want to give an objective assessment of anything free of emotion or bias, the first thing you need to understand is, what was the objective?"

"maybe one of those sheiks come down and spend some oil bucks bringing something new and innovative to our waters."

You either never knew or have chosen to ignore what we said we wanted to achieve. The goal was for US to produce the innovation and get others interested in it. Not for us to show how good we could dance and sing. Your model will create another generation of cooks and bottle washers

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hrysippus 1 week, 4 days ago

A huge sum of money spent on going to Dubai, .. ... ...A wasteful spend of taxes is what some persons cry... .. ...But Clinton and his choir, ... .... ..Had a right good time.... ..... .. ... And Fill and AnnMary flew First and stayed in Prime..........So if the PM had vacation and one hundred more or so...........The naysayers and taxpayers can go and eat some crow... .. .. ..The crony chief's in power, it is a brand new day............. .. .. .. Free junkets for the Party is the way it's gonna stay. Sigh.

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