What São Paulo, Brazil, Can Teach the Middle East

São Paulo, Brazil's largest and richest city Diplomats from Arab countries working in Brazil want to take successful experiences from the southeastern Brazilian city of São Paulo back to their homelands. The desire was expressed last week during a visit of the diplomats to the São Paulo City Council.

The group, comprised of ambassadors and consuls from the League of Arab States, is on an official visit to the municipality, and was welcomed at the Council by alderman José Rogério Farhat. The diplomats were introduced to some of the city’s successful initiatives such as the Syrian-Lebanese Hospital, and the beneficent society of support to the elderly “A Mão Branca.”

“We wish for São Paulo to have agreements with Arab “brother cities”, so that we may take advantage of the experiences we have witnessed in this wealthy city,” stated the acting dean of the Council of Arab Ambassadors in Brazil, Rahamtalla Mohamed Osman, at the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce.

The Moroccan ambassador to the Brazilian capital Brasí­lia, Farida Jaí¯di, who is also a member of the group, asserted that São Paulo could pass on to Moroccan municipalities, for instance, its experience as a business capital. “This includes the healthcare sector,” she said, referring to the Syrian-Lebanese Hospital.

“São Paulo is a great city that offers many industrial, commercial and cultural opportunities. There is a vast field for developing cooperation between Mauritania and São Paulo. The city can provide knowledge to Mauritania in the areas of street construction and medicine technology,” said the Mauritanian ambassador to Brasí­lia, N’Diaye Kane, who is also a member of the mission.

Farhat claimed that the city is interested in having greater cooperation with the Arabs. “This Arab-Brazilian integration is natural among two friendly populations,” he said.

During the visit of the ambassadors to the Syrian-Lebanese Hospital, another subject discussed was the possibility of exchanging experiences. “The Syrian-Lebanese Hospital is open to our Arab brothers. We may discuss programs and partnerships. We face similar problems, similar diseases,” asserted the clinical director at the institution, Riad Younes.

Younes received the group together with other representatives of the hospital’s board of directors and of the Women’s Beneficent Society at the Syrian Lebanese Hospital. The Society’s president of honor, Violeta Jafet, was also present.

The Syrian-Lebanese Hospital ranks among the most important in Brazil and Latin America. It has capacity for up to 50 surgeries a day, and maintains a Teaching and Research Institute, turned to professional improvement of its doctors, and which also promotes international knowledge exchange. The ambassadors were impressed by the work of the institution. They got to know some sections of the hospital, such as the Oncology Center, the Surgical Training Center, and expansion works.

The group also visited elderly home A Mão Branca, where they made a donation on behalf of the Council of Arab Ambassadors. The nursery was founded by members of the Arab colony in 1912, and currently caters to approximately 150 people.

One third of them live in the nursery for free. The premises have a built area of 4,000 square meters and a total area of 9,000 square meters. Donations answer to a significant share of the funds that maintain the institution. Promotions, such as dinners and luncheons, are also held in order to raise funds.

The president at A Mão Branca, Elizabeth Camasmie, accompanied by other members of the board of directors at the nursery home, showed the premises to the ambassadors. Around 60 people do volunteer work at the institution.

In addition to receiving food and healthcare, the elderly engage in activities such as gymnastics, costume jewelry manufacturing, painting and games. Elizabeth claims that the premises will undergo expansion work, therefore the institution is in need of donations.

The ambassadors also attended the “Morocco” exhibition, at the Museum of Brazilian Art at the Armando ílvares Penteado Foundation (FAAP). The exhibition gathers 500 Moroccan objects dating from the Neolithic period to present times. Items range from carpets and pictures to veils, mosaic panels, vases, plates, and typical jewelry.

Anba

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