A seminar about Arab culture, history, and society to take place on September 14 and 15, in São Paulo, Brazil, will precede the summit between heads of state of South America and Arab countries, scheduled for the beginning of 2005.
“We want to take advantage of the summit to make the Arab world better known in Brazil,” stated Heloisa Vilhena de Araújo, director of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry Research Center (Ipri).
The institute is the research arm of Alexandre de Gusmão Foundation, connected to the Ministry of Foreign Relations, in charge of the promotion of cultural and academic activities related to Brazilian foreign policy.
The seminar will take place at Hotel Intercontinental, in the city of São Paulo, the city in Brazil that has the largest Arab colony.
The meeting is going cover themes connected to the history, religion, rights, and culture of the Arab countries. The talks will be given by 14 scholars from Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Palestine.
Six other university professors and Brazilian diplomats are going to work as moderators of the debates.
There will be talks about the relations between Islam and policy, the basic laws of Islam adopted as social rules in Arab communities, the social principles and fundaments of the countries, the translation of great works of literature to Western languages, the image that the Arab population has of South America, and their priorities in international actions.
Six speakers will come from Arab universities to participate in the seminar. According to Ms Vilhena de Araújo, they were recommended to the Ministry of Foreign Relations as specialists in subjects connected to the Arab world. The South American speakers are professionals who work in research directly connected to the theme.
Among the Arab speakers are Mohamed El-Ferrane, a professor at Hassan II University, in Morocco, to discuss the Sharya, Mona Anis, a journalist and editor of Egyptian paper Al-ahram, to discuss how means of communication present South America to the Egyptians, and Mahmud Ali Makki, from Cairo University, to talk about “the concept of Arab nations.” The contents of this seminar will later be published.
The discussion is not going to include topics to be covered by the summit next year, including trade and international policy.
Different from the 2005 meeting, a closed meeting between diplomats and heads of state, the seminar is going to be open to the general public.
São Paulo was selected to host the event due to the large colony of Arab immigrants and their descendants living in the city.
The seminar is an Ipri initiative. The institute normally organizes debates about regions with which Brazil is interested in improving its trade or diplomatic ties.
The objective is to stimulate study and research of countries considered Brazilian foreign policy priorities.
In November last year, the Ipri, together with Brazilian universities, promoted a series of five seminars about the Andean Community of Nations, the union of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.
The organization of a summit between Arab and South American heads of state was an initiative of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
During the meeting, the heads of state are going to discuss an improvement of commercial and diplomatic relations between both regions.
The Brazilian government even mentioned the possibility of beginning a free trade accord with the Arab nations after the meeting.
The Mercosur, the South American bloc including Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil, is already signing trade agreements with Egypt and Morocco. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has also asked for talks regarding a free trade accord with the Mercosur.
So as to participate in the seminar on September 14 and 15, it is not necessary to enrol in advance. The auditorium where the debates are going to take place can sit one hundred people. Further information and the complete seminar program may be found at the Ministry of Foreign Relations site (see address below).
South America – Arab Countries Dialogue
Date: September 14 and 15 (Tuesday and Wednesday)
Time: 09:30am to 07:00pm (14) and 10:00am to 06:00pm (15)
Location: Hotel Intercontinental, Alameda Santos, 1123
Enrolment: free at the location Information: www.itamaraty.gov.br or (+5561) 411 6786
Reporter: Isaura Daniel ANBA
Brazil-Arab News Agency