BUILD­ING BRIDGES WITH BRAZIL

FROM FOOD SE­CU­RITY AND FOR­EIGN POL­ICY TO SPORTS AND CUL­TURE, MANY TIES UNITE THE FAR-FLUNG AND DI­A­MET­RI­CALLY OP­PO­SITE COUN­TRIES OF QATAR AND BRAZIL. IN THIS EX­CLU­SIVE WITH QATAR TO­DAY, HIS EX­CEL­LENCY THE AM­BAS­SADOR OF BRAZIL TO QATAR TADEU VALADARES ELABO

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From food se­cu­rity and for­eign pol­icy to sports and cul­ture, many ties unite the far-flung and di­a­met­ri­cally op­po­site coun­tries of Qatar and Brazil. In this ex­clu­sive with Qatar To­day, His Ex­cel­lency the Am­bas­sador of Brazil to Qatar Tadeu Valadares elab­o­rates on this multi-faceted bond.

We are bang in the mid­dle of the 2014 Qatar-Brazil Year of Cul­ture. Of­fi­cially launched on Jan­uary 27 of this year and in the pres­ence of His Ex­cel­lency Dr Ha­mad Al Kuwari, Min­is­ter of Cul­ture, Arts and Her­itage of the State of Qatar (who has also served as Am­bas­sador of Qatar to Brazil), what a year to cel­e­brate our com­mon­al­i­ties! Like all eyes around the world, Qatar's too turned to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, not only to join in and com­mem­o­rate the spirit of the game but also to ob­serve, learn and un­der­stand, for when our time comes in 2022. But that was just the be­gin­ning. From fash­ion de­sign and food to art and pho­tog­ra­phy, Brazil­ians and Qataris en­thu­si­as­ti­cally em­braced the common plat­forms to dis­cover and share ideas. On this note, we caught up with His Ex­cel­lency Am­bas­sador Tadeu Valadares who in­sists that, though diplo­matic ties be­tween the two coun­tries might be in their in­fancy (diplo­matic re­la­tions were es­tab­lished way back in 1974, Brazil opened its em­bassy in Doha only in 2005 and Qatar, after a tem­po­rary eight-year hia­tus shortly after it opened its em­bassy in Brasilia in 1997, re­opened its diplo­matic post in 2007), both have “come a long way in terms of in­creas­ing and strength­en­ing po­lit­i­cal, tourist, com­mer­cial, and cul­tural ties.” The con­gru­ence in the fun­da­men­tal way the two coun­tries view the fu­ture and their place in it has helped speed this re­la­tion­ship along. “Both our coun­tries share a sharp view of the fu­ture. In terms of for­eign pol­icy, we are com­mit­ted to build­ing a more demo­cratic and plu­ral­is­tic in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, an en­vi­ron­ment where the once-called “pe­riph­eral” coun­tries de­serve to be heard, a global struc­ture where emerg­ing coun­tries will pros­per and thrive,” he says.

Trades and ties

This un­der­ly­ing common phi­los­o­phy has been con­tin­u­ally ce­mented with sev­eral and fre­quent high-level vis­its and del­e­ga­tions be­tween the two. “His High­ness the Fa­ther Emir, HH Sheikh Hamid bin Khal­ifa Al Thani vis­ited Brazil in 2010 and last Septem­ber, HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser led a high-level Qatari del­e­ga­tion to Pará, in the Ama­zon re­gion. For­mer Pres­i­dent of Brazil Luís Iná­cio Lula da Silva was in Doha in 2009, 2010 and 2012,” Am­bas­sador Valadares men­tions. “In ad­di­tion to this, there has been ex­change of im­por­tant del­e­ga­tions for events like Doha Goals, WISE and World So­cial Se­cu­rity Fo­rum” As re­cently as March 2014, the Gov­er­nor of the Brazil­ian Fed­eral Dis­trict, Agnelo Queiroz, signed a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing in Qatar

TWO QATARI MIS­SIONS WERE SENT TO BRAZIL IN THE CON­TEXT OF THE WORLD CUP: THREE SUPREME COM­MIT­TEE FOR DE­LIV­ERY AND LEGACY REP­RE­SEN­TA­TIVES WHO PAR­TIC­I­PATED IN A MON­I­TOR­ING OP­ER­A­TION LAST YEAR IN APRIL, AND A SEC­OND ONE SENT DUR­ING THE TOUR­NA­MENT CON­SIST­ING OF MORE THAN 100 PEO­PLE FROM THE COM­MIT­TEE, ASHGHAL, THE MIN­ISTRY OF IN­TE­RIOR, ETC.

with the Mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Doha, ex­plor­ing “bi­lat­eral con­ver­gent in­ter­ests of Brasília and Doha in sev­eral spheres, such as the use of ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies in or­der to bet­ter pub­lic ser­vices of­fered to cit­i­zens”.

While all this was hap­pen­ing, bi­lat­eral trade was bur­geon­ing at an un­prece­dented rate. “Be­tween 2009 and 2013 the to­tal bi­lat­eral trade grew 315%, jumping from $221 mil­lion (QR805 mil­lion) to $915 mil­lion (QR3.33 bil­lion),” the Am­bas­sador says, not­ing that this was mainly due to a con­sid­er­able growth in Brazil­ian im­ports, mak­ing it the 17th largest mar­ket for Qatari ex­ports. “Brazil im­ports a sig­nif­i­cant amount of Liq­ue­fied Nat­u­ral Gas and fer­til­iz­ers, whereas ma­jor Qatar im­ports con­sist of iron ore, alu­minum and food, mostly poul­try,” he added.

Brought to­gether by business

Brazil aims at be­ing a valu­able part­ner to Qatar in its pur­suit of food se­cu­rity. Al­ready a ma­jor ex­porter of food to Qatar and with known com­pe­tency in pro­duc­ing agri­cul­ture ma­chin­ery, Brazil has “real po­ten­tial in terms of ex­pand­ing its pres­ence here”, ac­cord­ing to Am­bas­sador Valadares, who con­tin­ues, “es­pe­cially if we man­age to bet­ter ex­plore the op­por­tu­ni­ties that ex­ist due to food and bev­er­age con­sump­tion gen­er­ated by the de­mand of Qatar´s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.”

Apart from this, Brazil­ian busi­nesses are aware of the mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties thrown open in Qatar due to its vast in­fra­struc­ture ex­pan­sion. “Brazil­ian en­trepreneurs have a recog­nised ex­per­tise in terms of de­sign­ing and de­vel­op­ing huge projects, from roads to air­ports, hy­dro­elec­tric power plants, en­tire ci­ties, and so on,” he men­tions, in­di­cat­ing that it can be put to good use here.

Con­versely, he points out that the thriv­ing Brazil­ian in­vest­ment cli­mate is ready for big play­ers like Qatar to jump in, as they have in the re­cent past. “Brazil, like Qatar, is un­der­go­ing ma­jor ex­pan­sion in its in­fra­struc­ture and of­fers good op­por­tu­ni­ties for Qatar In­vest­ments Au­thor­ity and other Qatari fi­nan­cial ac­tors. In fact, Qatar In­vest­ment Au­thor­ity is al­ready present in Brazil, mainly in the real es­tate and fi­nan­cial sec­tors. So far, the high­est Qatari in­vest­ments in Brazil have been the ac­qui­si­tion of the World Trade Cen­ter São Paulo, in March 2012, by TFI-Hines [Brazil In­come Real Es­tate Fund]; and the pur­chase of $2.7 bil­lion (QR9.8 bil­lion) in San­tander Brazil bonds (5% of the share cap­i­tal of the bank) by Qatar Hold­ing in Oc­to­ber 2010.” The Brazil­ian Congress has re­cently passed new and more flex­i­ble leg­is­la­tion con­cern­ing for­eign own­er­ship in the coun­try's ports and the Am­bas­sador con­sid­ers the mod­erni­sa­tion of Brazil's ports another area that Qatari in­vestors could po­ten­tially find at­trac­tive.

A year to re­mem­ber

More than com­mer­cial and po­lit­i­cal ties, the Am­bas­sador ap­pears gen­uinely in­ter­ested in dis­cussing the ef­forts to bring to­gether the peo­ples and cul­tures of the two coun­tries, es­pe­cially through the 2014 Qatar-Brazil Year of Cul­ture. Call­ing it “a ma­jor cul­tural and in­tel­lec­tual joint ef­fort”, Am­bas­sador Valadares counts among its suc­cesses the spe­cial Qatar-Brazil pavil­ion at Qatar In­ter­na­tional Food Fes­ti­val (QIFF) last March at the MIA Park and the pho­tog­ra­phy ex­change which re­sulted in “Qatar-Brazil: a jour­ney from the Ama­zon to the Desert” in Katara. He also high­lights the Brazil­ian Cin­ema Showcase at the Mu­seum of Is­lamic Art, where ev­ery month Doha Film In­sti­tute screens the best picks from Brazil­ian cin­ema. “I would def­i­nitely rec­om­mend keep­ing an eye on the cal­en­dar for the Showcase, as we will still have plenty of good Brazil­ian movies to be screened in Doha dur­ing the year,” he says.

But per­haps the most ex­cit­ing part of the ex­change cul­mi­nated in June and July of this year with the FIFA World Cup Brazil, giv­ing ex­perts in Qatar the chance to share first-hand the Brazil­ian ex­pe­ri­ence con­cern­ing prepa­ra­tions for this mega event. “Two Qatari mis­sions were sent to Brazil in the con­text of the World Cup. Last April, three Supreme Com­mit­tee for De­liv­ery and Legacy rep­re­sen­ta­tives par­tic­i­pated in a Mon­i­tor­ing Op­er­a­tion or­ga­nized by the Gov­ern­ment of Brazil. The sec­ond Qatari mis­sion was sent to Brazil dur­ing the tour­na­ment. It had more than 100 peo­ple, among Qatari na­tion­als and ex­pat gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials from in­sti­tu­tions such as Ashghal, the Min­istry of In­te­rior and, of course, the Supreme Com­mit­tee,” Am­bas­sador Valadares says. “The mis­sion was di­vided into five dif­fer­ent groups that vis­ited four Brazil­ian World Cup host ci­ties. Be­sides, Qatar also or­gan­ised a stu­dent ex­change pro­gramme called 'Gen­er­a­tion Amaz­ing' where 22 young stu­dents were taken to Brazil dur­ing the World Cup, in or­der to gain ex­pe­ri­ence sim­ply by be­ing present at the event.” He sin­cerely wishes that th­ese mis­sions will even­tu­ally come in handy for the Supreme Com­mit­tee in its own process of pre­par­ing for the 2022 World Cup, ex­press­ing cer­tainty that it will be a huge suc­cess

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