Ten On The Weekend is a semi-weekly feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.
Our guest this weekend is Bashar Daoud of Bluemina.
How do you spend your weekends?
Weekends are all about the family for me. Along with my three children and wife, we head down to our family farmhouse by the Dead Sea to enjoy the sun and good weather. I’ll spend the day outside with my children in the open air. They’ve recently learned to ride their bikes, so we’re pretty big on bike rides around the block.
In the evenings, we have a fun routine. I’ll often barbecue and we’ll put together puzzles or guess riddles with the kids. I’ll admit, they’re getting really good at them, maybe too good! It’s more fun than online school I’ll say that much, and they’d probably agree!
What are your top three business goals this year?
So many changes happened in the past year and Covid-19 has taught us a lot of lessons. At work, we’ve flourished; we invested in the career growth of our present employees across our 10 branches. We’ve even grown our network while adding two new offices in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq and another in Sheikh Zayed City, Egypt. Although 2020 was a difficult year for many companies in the world, it was a flourishing year for Bluemina, and we’re grateful to have built such a strong and close-knit culture to achieve that. Our employees were so cooperative working remotely and adapting to new techniques at work. We take lots of pride in the fact that not a single employee lost their job and no salary cuts were imposed.
In 2021, we want to continue riding that growth wave, expand our network of global offices, and continue to nourish and enrich internally. This coming year, we are keen to continue catering to our clients, offering the ultimate highest standards of service as we’ve always done since 1997. Our clients are now seeking further after-sales services from Bluemina, private or family wealth management, offshore banking setup assistance, and other general financial consulting services. It could very well be time to set up a sister company to assist our clients further.
What’s your biggest business concern right now?
This year we’ve seen the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment program come to a complete halt. It’s a program that our clients are invested in, and where they have been enjoying benefits for many years now. Without a doubt, CBI programs, and especially the Cypriot CBI program, brought great economic impacts and benefits to the country. Well-governed and duly executed CBI and RBI programs are beautiful, for both country and investors. So seeing the program come to a sudden stop is concerning especially with the increasingly growing demand of CBI and RBI solutions amongst investors in the MENA region. We need to be offering them more, not less.
Another concern of mine has come up in recent years; the industry’s been faced with a huge challenge of distinguishing between true-to-the-core CBI and RBI companies and companies that I call “pop-up” companies. There are probably only a number of companies that I can name on one hand that were the true pioneers of the industry. Immigration is, after all, one of the oldest “trades”.
When my father first established Bluemina in 1997, our headquarters office, which he opened in Amman, Jordan, catered to all the Middle Eastern investors seeking to migrate or obtain a second citizenship. I remember my father walking a client through the entire process day by day through programs lasting years to complete and obtain a successful application on behalf of the client. These clients are part of our lives to this day, the kind of clients you call every once in a while even a decade later just to check in on their wellbeing. That is true promise and service, which we so proudly strive to achieve for our clients, even now.
I am concerned with the recent trend of newly established companies with little to no experience operating and not delivering as promised to clients. I call them “pop-up” companies because they appear for such a short period of time and then completely disappear. This tarnishes the industry’s reputation and overshadows the great benefits of CBI and RBI programs.
Which book is on your night-stand right now?
I really believe reading is the strongest form of meditation for me in these chaotic times. At this moment, I am enjoying Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans, an interesting read
How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?
I joined Bluemina in 2006. The Bluemina it back then did not look anything like it does today! Just before joining, I had a really great career in banking in Montreal, Canada. Canada had been home since I was a young child. My family migrated there in the early ’90s and coming back to the Middle East was never in my plans. On a visit to Jordan one summer, I saw so much potential in our family business, I started learning about the different CBI and RBI programs, and it was all new and yet so familiar to me. I’ve always said that CBI and RBI run in my blood; it’ll always be my drive and passion. Today, we are four proud partners: The founder, Mr. Wasim Daoud, Lina Daoud, Nadine Daoud, and I. We have over 75 staff across 10 global offices.
What was your proudest moment as a service provider?
The proudest moments as a service provider have always been, is, and will forever remain the satisfaction of seeing our clients joyful to receive their citizenship and passports or their residence documents.
Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
The sudden closure of the Cypriot Citizenship Program. We should all strive to give more options, not fewer, to our deserving clients
If you could go back 10 years in time, what business decision would you change?
What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
My answer may be a bit biased but definitely Mr. Wasim Daoud. He has been in this industry for over 30 years. He remains, however, vibrant and forward-looking in all decisions he takes for our firm.
10 If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?
I am really putting all of my efforts into concentrating on the now! I believe our industry is so fast-evolving and changes at a much more rapid pace than other industries. One must be careful not to plan too far ahead. One thing is for sure though; I see our firm vastly growing in all aspects of its operations.