Next week, the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce is going to pay homage to Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. At a dinner with the Arab community, on March 25th, Lula will have his work of generation of closer ties between Brazil and the Arab countries officially recognized.
The event, at Mount Lebanon Club, in the city of São Paulo, should receive around 1,000 guests, members of the Arab colony.
“The importance of the Lula government, of his personal effort to improve relations between Brazil and the Arab countries, has always been mentioned. Nothing fairer, then, than to make public this recognition,” explained the Marketing vice president at the Arab Brazilian Chamber, Rubens Hannun. The initiative is by the Arab Brazilian Chamber.
The dinner is taking place as part of the celebrations of the National Day of the Arab Community, which also includes the South American Arab Culture Festival, with cultural activities about the ties between both regions, between the 20th and 30th of this month, in the capital and interior of São Paulo state.
The 25th of March was established as the National Day of the Arab Community and became a federal law after a bill approved in August 2008 by the Presidency of the Republic.
According to figures supplied by the Arab Brazilian Chamber, there are in Brazil 12 million Arabs and their descendants. In São Paulo alone, the city where Lula will be honored, there are 2.5 million people of Arab descent.
And president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was the leader that invested most in relations between Brazil and the Arab world. Before him, only Emperor Pedro II had visited the region while in power.
Rubens Hannun points towards trade as one of the areas where the efforts of the Brazilian president generated concrete results. Lula took his first trip to the Arab world in 2003, at the start of his term in office, and from then to last year Brazilian exports to the region have grown 240%, from US$ 2.7 billion to US$ 9.4 billion.
“Since his first visit, trade has started growing and has not stopped. It only stopped during the (global economic) crisis and, even then, dropped less than did trade between Brazil and other regions,” said Hannun.
The Marketing vice-president at the Arab Brazilian Chamber recalls that the organization has been working for the growth of relations between Brazil and the Arab world for 57 years. According to Hannun, the Chamber also played its part in the relations developed by Lula and the Arabs as the organization delivered to him a study showing the potential there was in the region as soon as he was inaugurated in office. “The seed had already been planted, but he watered it,” said Hannun.
He said that Lula’s charisma and the importance he granted to the region gave Brazil, in the Arab world, the image of a neutral, friendly and trustworthy country. Hannun recalls that whoever travels abroad notices that the president has become a name mentioned when talking about Brazil, as is the case, for example, with football and Carnaval. Apart from helping strengthen trade with the Arabs, Lula has arisen, on the global scenery, as a mediator for the questions of the Middle East.
The dinner served should be Arab food. It will be a demonstration, recalled Andrea Monteiro, Marketing manager at the Arab Brazilian Chamber, of how the Arabs and the Arab customs are connected to the Brazilian community. In 2010, Arabs are celebrating the 130 years of the Arab immigration to Brazil.