Hard-to-Get US Visas May Draw Saudis to Brazilian Schools

Genetic engineering is a specialty Brazil can offer the Saudis The Brazilian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Isnard Penha Brasil Júnior, wants to make Brazil an option for Saudi students to do post-graduate courses in the areas of science and technology.

The diplomat started discussing with representatives of the governments of both countries and with other Brazilian institutions the possibility of exchange between Brazil and Saudi Arabia in the area of education.

The idea is for the Saudis to come to Brazil to do master's and doctoral studies in science and technology, and for the Arab country also to invest in Brazilian institutions that offer this kind of education.

Brazil, according to the ambassador, has a great education capacity in the area of science and technology. "We may present these opportunities, use our education capacity and receive from them investment in the area," stated Isnard.

Currently, the Saudis are facing difficulties in developing their studies in regions like the United States and Europe due to refused visas. These are the two main regions in which the Saudis used to complement their studies.

The ambassador's initiative is part of the efforts to increase exchange between Saudi Arabia and Brazil due to a free trade agreement to be signed between the Mercosur, the economic bloc that includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

The diplomat has already presented idea of educational cooperation to representatives of the GCC. "They found the idea interesting. I am going to discuss the matter with them again when I return," he said.

Isnard arrived in Brazil in January and is going to return to Saudi Arabia this weekend. He extended his stay in the country specifically to discuss actions between both countries regarding the treaty.

Isnard discussed the project with representatives of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the governments of the Federal District (the Brazilian Capital), São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Despite having visited the two southeastern states and the Federal District, the ambassador stated that nothing stops other regions of the country, like the Northeast, from participating in the project.

The diplomat, who is also the Brazilian ambassador to Oman and Yemen, believes that the Saudi interest should range from information technology to fibre optics, genetic engineering and agriculture in the semi-arid. The development of the semi-arid is one of the specialties of the Northeast.

"I have already kindled the idea. Now the sectors that may be interested should present their specific projects," stated the ambassador. The Saudi capital should work as a supplement to post-graduate education in Brazil.

To receive the Saudi students, however, the courses would have to be in English. Isnard believes that this will not be a problem. "Saudi post-graduate students speak English and Brazilian professors who work in science and technology do too," he said.

During his stay in Brazil, Isnard also discussed cooperation between Brazil and Saudi Arabia in other areas, like petroleum. He met with representatives of the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

"There is Saudi interest in partnerships with Brazil because they are turning their oil prospecting to deeper waters and Brazil has great experience in this area," he said. Brazilian oil company Petrobras is the world leader in the exploration of petroleum in deep waters.



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