The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) and the Ministry of Financial Services attended the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP) Conference on Sunday, November 17, onboard the historic Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner, which is permanently moored in Port Rashid, Dubai. The conference was well-attended with over 135 registered delegates. The delegates were comprised of trust and estate practitioners from Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Switzerland, the UK, Singapore and the Netherlands, as well as STEP members resident in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This was the first time that BFSB has sponsored this event, which was attended by Elsworth Johnson, minister of financial services, trade, industry & immigration; Antoinette Russell, BFSB chairman; Tanya McCartney, BFSB chief executive officer and executive director; Non-resident Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar Ambassador Tony Joudi and a number of Bahamian financial services providers.
The STEP Arabia Conference seeks to educate professionals on the significance of careful estate and trust planning. Key themes covered during the one-day event included: “CRS – What Is Being Shared?”, “US & UK Tax Updates”, “DIFC & ADJD Wills – Are They Working?”, “Middle East Cultural Considerations with Wealth Preservation”, “UAE Foundations; Shifting Sands-Competitor or Partner” and “Current Threats to Cyber Security in the Middle East and What to Do About Them?”
The objective of the STEP Arabia conference is to provide delegates with the latest regional legacy planning developments and practical examples from leading professionals in the field of trust and estate planning. McCartney indicated that: “Today, Bahamian firms are already providing sharia compliant trust and corporate structures. There is an opportunity for us to familiarize the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with the offerings of The Bahamas. We see participation in this event as a first step in our focus on this market. While in Dubai we also had the opportunity to meet with the Executive Committee of STEP Arabia, which outlined the needs and solutions that would be best suited for MENA clients.”
The Bahamas Financial Services Board’s sponsorship and attendance of the STEP Arabia Conference was aimed at highlighting that The Bahamas is open for business, committed to international standard of best practice and compliance. It was also an opportunity to demonstrate the nation’s spirit of cooperation and deepen its relationship with the UAE. BFSB Chairman Antoinette Russell noted that: “The response to the Bahamas delegation was extremely positive. We have expanded our network and will build on these relationships as we turn our sights on the MENA market.”