Interest in Cayman rising in Dubai

The Department of Commerce and
Investment’s office in Dubai is close to paying dividends through inward investment.

John Papesh, who heads up the Dubai
office, was in Cayman this week, partially to attend meetings with potential
investors.

“Things are going well and there’s
an appetite for Cayman,” he said, adding that some discussions with some of the
investors were “very far along”.

“It looks like we’ll have a few
converted in the next few months.”

Although the announcement was made
in July 2009 that the Dubai Investment office would open in December, it wasn’t
until the first of March this year that all the various bureaucracy was
satisfied and the office officially opened, Mr. Papesh said.

“But I’ve been working since day
one,” he said, adding that a data base of thousands of potential investors has
been established and the Cayman Islands has been promoted to investors.

In addition to working on behalf of
the Cayman Islands through the Department of Commerce and Investment office,
Mr. Papesh is also the managing director of Pharos Financial Group. He said
Pharos has long-standing contacts throughout Europe and Asia and that he’s able
to promote the Cayman Islands through that company as well. Although Mr. Papesh
is technically a one-man show in terms of Cayman’s Department of Commerce and
Investment office in Dubai, he is able to use resources and personnel at Pharos
to help him in his efforts to promote Cayman.

“I can open doors using Pharos or
Cayman,” he said. “It’s really a win-win situation.”

Mr. Papesh said Dubai is a
commercial hub for the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which include
Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, but he
explained that it takes time to develop relationships with potential investors
from those countries.

“Doing business in the Middle East
is very relationship driven,” he said. “It is a process. The sales cycle
usually takes at least one year.”

When Premier McKeeva Bush announced
the opening of the Dubai office, he noted that the Gulf Cooperation Council
countries were increasingly looking for foreign investment in areas such as
infrastructure, tourism, manufacturing, energy, agriculture and real estate.

Mr. Papesh agreed that Middle East
investors in Dubai were “open to all types of investment opportunities” and
that the investors included a variety of sovereign funds, royal families and
institutions.

“Investors from the Middle East
know Cayman very well. Cayman has a good brand that is reputable,” he said,
adding that Cayman was particularly known for structured bonds that are used
quite often there.

However, because Dubai is also a
global investment centre, in attracts investors from all over the world and not
just the Middle East, Mr. Papesh said, adding that he’s met with investors
potentially interested in Cayman from many different countries. He said he
spends about half his time travelling, not only in the Middle East, but to
other emerging market countries as well.

Although even Dubai hit a rough
spot during the global economic recession, he said it is beginning to boom
again.

“I’m encouraged,” he said. “I know
it’s been a tough few years, but things are improving. Investment is really
starting to pick up again. There’s a lot of [investment capital] on the
sidelines looking to be deployed.”

He said that in today’s competitive
world, Cayman needs to be proactive and go out looking for business.

“It makes sense to have a presence
[in Dubai] to promote inward investment,” he said.

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