Building Bridges Between Brazil and the Arab World

I am in the process of starting a bi-weekly column in various newspapers and magazines in the Middle East on the subject of Brazil and the Arab world. Today, I know for a fact, because of an actual experience, that my articles can have an impact in the flow of Arab money leaving the United States for a safer place.

In June 2003, I wrote an article regarding “Brazil and Saudi Arabia” that caught the attention of the Brazilian State Department in Brazil.


They must have enjoyed reading my article, because as soon as the article was published in Brazzil magazine, on the same day, they posted a copy of my article in Brazil at the Brazilian State Department’s website.


Later, I also found out that my article had been circulated among members of the Saudi Arabian Royal family, and also among senior members of the Saudi Arabian government.


They enjoyed reading my article; and a week after my article was published, I received a letter from the Saudi Arabian government inviting me for a visit to Saudi Arabia.
                                                                                                                           You can read the article that caught the attention of so many people in the United States, in Brazil and in Saudi Arabia at the following website address:


June 2003 article: “Dear Saudis, Play Safe, Bring Your Money to Brazil”
https://www.brazzil.com/p117jun03.htm


It is my understanding that my article had an impact in the outflow of Saudi Arabian money going out of the United States in the following months after that article was published (you can check out the figures of the outflow of Saudi money leaving the USA for July, August and September 2003.)


I did not accept at that time the invitation of the Saudi Arabian government to visit Saudi Arabia, because of the Iraq war that was developing in that area of the world.


Since the Saudi Arabian government got in contact with me, I continued corresponding with the Saudi Arabian official who had contacted me.


During the summer of 2004, I had the pleasure of meeting him in person here in New Jersey, when he was in the United States on a business trip doing a road show on behalf of his organization.
                                                                                                                     
I told him that the reason that I wrote that article was that I wish there were a way that I could help to bring the governments of Brazil and governments of the Arab countries of the Middle East; including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar to a much closer business and economic relationship.


When I met my new Saudi Arabian friend, our meeting was very productive in the area of the exchange of ideas. I learned a lot from him regarding Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.


He told me that whereas the whole world loves Brazil for its samba, Carnaval and football, it remains outside the realm of major foreign investments except for a few expert international companies and investors.


He also told me that since he travels around the Middle East all the time, he is aware that most Arabs in the Middle East know very little about Brazil with the exception of the people of Iraq. (I will be back to the subject of Iraq later.)


Powerful Writing


My article was an eye opener for a lot of people in Saudi Arabia. He told me that he used to have two bank accounts here in the United States until recently, but he closed both accounts, and moved his money to a safer place out of the USA.


He also told me that he knew many people in Saudi Arabia that were doing the same thing; moving their money out of the USA, just in case. 


He is also an editor for various publications in the Middle East specialized in the area of the petroleum industry. He told me that he did read several of my articles and that as an editor he did like my writing style.


He suggested that I contact the editor of the most influential newspapers and magazines in each of the countries listed above, to start a syndicated bi-weekly column to educate the people in the Middle East about Brazil, and to try over a period of time to build a closer business and economic relationship between these Arab countries and Brazil.  


Since then I started contacting all the major English publications in the Arab world to offer them my bi-weekly column on the subject of Brazil and the Arab world.


Today, I write many controversial articles from economic issues to nuclear weapons, and I have many readers from around the world who send me feedback about my articles via letter and email.


Most of my articles are about economics, foreign policy, and Brazilian history. I am sure that my newly syndicated bi-weekly column (in English) will be a success in the Arab countries of the Middle East; including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.


Brazil and Iraq


In the past, Brazil had a great business relationship with Iraq, and during the years 1976 to 1990 Iraq became one of the major importers of Brazilian products and services.


Brazil exported over US$ 30 billion dollars of goods and services to Iraq during that period, a volume of business larger than the business that Brazil had individually with any European country.


Iraq was the ideal partner for Brazil at that time, and the Brazilian Ambassador Paulo Tarso Flecha de Lima had been the great architect of this partnership when he lead various commercial trade missions to Baghdad.
 
The trading with Iraq is the only example that we have of Brazil recycling the petrodollars with one of the petroleum producing countries of the Middle East.


Brazil bought a lot of oil from Iraq under a special agreement, and Iraq bought from Brazil automobiles, chicken, beef and pork products, tractors, coffee, sugar, military armament, and Brazilian construction companies built the most important infrastructure projects in Iraq.


The Brazilian construction company Mendes Júnior employed over 30,000 people in Iraq over the years, and among its most important projects they built the Baghdad-Akashat railroad, a major expressway, an irrigation system at the Tiger and Euphrates rivers.


During these fourteen years the Brazilian government had very close ties with the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein. Brazil always had some kind of foreign exchange crisis happening, and the Iraqi government was the only Middle East government willing to trade with Brazil at that time.


In 1990 Brazil had to accept the United Nations economic embargo against Iraq, but Brazil continued trading with Iraq over the following years under the “United Nations – Oil for Food” program.


For Brazil and Arabs the Future Is Now


I believe that today is the right time to start building once again closer ties and a solid and strong business relationship between Brazil and the Arab countries of the Middle East.


On September 15, 2004 the Financial Times of London had a feature article about Brazil, and they said in the article that Brazil, the eternal country of the future, comes of age on the global stage.


Right now, Brazil is on its way to becoming one of the major countries of the future in terms of international business and economic development.


The major goal of my articles will be to educate the Arabs of the oil producing countries about Brazil, and help to build a bridge between these Arab countries and Brazil.


We hope to establish a strong friendship between these countries and Brazil, and also the foundations for a new business and economic relations that will be mutually rewarding: for Brazil and for all these Arab countries of the Middle East.


Ricardo C. Amaral is an economist and author. You can reach him at amaral@alumni.fdu.edu.

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