Good morning. To your Royal Highnesses, Majesties, Honourable Excellencies, Prime Ministers, ladies and gentlemen….. I am honoured to be here to represent Bermuda to the delegates of the World Islamic Economic Forum. I bring greetings of peace from the people of Bermuda – Assalaam alaykum.
This Forum is timely. Over the last several decades, the locus of global economic activity has shifted. Our global economy today has new poles of economic growth and vitality.
There are new opportunities.
We are here to discuss these new opportunities. We are here to build and strengthen the new relationships that align with the new opportunities.
My country, Bermuda, wishes to join with your countries in forging the new relationships of the 21st Century.
I can imagine that many of you know very little of Bermuda…so if you would indulge me for a few minutes, I’d like to share with you a few facts about Bermuda and to define why we are here today.
As the Premier of Bermuda, I’ve come to this conference to renew old friendships with the Islamic Financial community and to forge new economic partnerships, to tell Bermuda’s very compelling story about our unique and attractive international business capabilities.
Like the Islamic community, we share the same fundamental values of trust, transparency, integrity and fairness, which have defined our relationships and business successes. In Bermuda, we honour and respect relationships. We are a family oriented society. As a new government, my vision for the country is for ‘ADUL’ -absolute justice and mutual respect by providing social and economic equity for everyone – leaving no one behind.
Despite being one of the most isolated islands on earth, Bermuda has a history of reaching beyond its borders to leverage our unique value propositions to forge long lasting and profitable relationships.
At our core, we are entrepreneurs, successful in business…we are innovators, who like the Islamic communities over centuries, have reshaped and reinvented ourselves-becoming experts in what we do — as a result, we are drawing the world to us and here’s why.
Bermuda is one of the most beautiful islands in the world – It has been referred to as – an isle of rest. It’s a clean, respectful and wonderful place to be. Geographically, we are 1,000 miles north of the Caribbean. The Islands of Bermuda are strategically situated between North America and Europe….we’re two hours away from New York. We have direct flights to London. One of Bermuda’s business strengths is that it provides a gateway to major North American cities like Washington, New York, Boston and Miami and Toronto.
Our 21 square mile island is home to approximately 60,000 inhabitants, many of which are high net worth individuals. The Bermuda dollar is directly tied to the U.S. dollar. From a tourism perspective, Bermudians are renowned for our warm and friendly hospitality. Our island is considered to be a high-end destination…but it wasn’t always that way. In the early 1600’s, Bermuda was thought of as a beautiful but unpolished rock in the
middle of the Atlantic. But through sheer determination and innovation, we capitalized on our natural beauty and strategic geographic location. We reinvented ourselves to become the Jewel of the Atlantic and pioneered Island Resort Tourism. As a small island, we stood toe to toe with our competitors to become the experts of the tourism industry and the envy of countries which came from as far away as Hawaii and Jamaica to learn from us.
Bermuda is also the oldest and most populated of the self-governing overseas territories of the United Kingdom, with strong traditional and government ties to the UK government and strong business ties to the United States.
Our residents enjoy a high quality of life and a low crime rate. Bermuda has a well developed and highly sophisticated telecommunications and legal infrastructure. Our legal and judicial systems are independent and based on English common law, with a right of final appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council of England. We also have a long history of political and economic stability.
From a business perspective, Bermuda ranks third behind London and New York as the risk capital of the world. Despite our small size, we are a center for excellence for captive insurance, reinsurance and the field of insurance linked securities. The Island currently occupies 36% of the global reinsurance market, with 1200 international companies with licenses valued at $450 billion dollars.
As a result, Bermuda enjoys an extraordinary concentration of intellectual capital, represented by the highest caliber of legal, financial and regulatory professionals. Our doors are open for jurisdictions to have partnerships with us so that we can learn from each other….
Next month Bermuda will play host to the ILS Convergence conference – a global insurance-linked securities networking event which will bring together the industry’s top thinkers, investors, leaders, sponsors and advisors.
As a low tax jurisdiction, Bermuda conforms to the highest internationally agreed tax standards of transparency, governance and tax information set in place by the OECD.
We’re serious about maintaining and establishing new international partnerships. We have a highly reputable and innovative regulatory framework.
By laying new legislation, our government has made ‘speed to market’ an imperative for new businesses looking to establish themselves in Bermuda. We’ve cut the red tape and have laid a solid foundation for businesses to flourish.
We adhere to the highest international standards while preserving investor protection and confidentiality which has made us a highly trusted jurisdiction for finance transactions such as Sukuk (SOO-KOOK) and Sharai’ah compliant funds, including private equity funds. Bermuda is home to the GE Capital Sukuk (Soo-kook)- the first one issued by a U.S. corporation ranking in the Top 10 Fortune 500 companies and the first to be based on ownership interests in aircraft assets.
We are also experts at wealth management —- Gulf Corporate Council based ruling families have a history of successful business relationships on the Island. In fact, we’ve been handling the financial affairs of the world’s most affluent families for more than 100 years. Bermuda is also recognized as a center for trust business, asset management, and could become a hub for Islamic insurance-the Takaful and Retakaful industries.
We know that every country is jockeying for position on the world stage, but Bermuda remains confident in our capabilities to positively accommodate Islamic Finance. We are a safe haven. There is no impediment to your success. We are positioned to be at the front of the next phase of growth for the global Islamic financial industry. The people and government of Bermuda welcome you to engage with us in Bermuda.
Assalaamu alaykum – Peace be Unto You..