Riyadh – President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil spent this Monday (28) in Doha, Qatar, the second stop in his first tour of the Arab world, which began in the UAE and will end in Saudi Arabia. Documents signed during the visit include a mutual visa waiver agreement for business travelers, tourists and passengers in transit.
Qatar hasn’t required visas from Brazilians since August 2017. Now, the waiver has been reciprocated. The only other Gulf nation Brazil sustains a similar agreement with is the UAE.
Agreements were also reached in air travel – nonstop flights are already available from Qatar Airways –, as well as memorandums of understanding for cooperation in healthcare, large-scale events – Brazil hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and Qatar is hosting it in 2022 –, diplomatic academies, and defense affairs.
One last document concerns exchange in R&D, logistics support, military medicine and the supply of defense products and services, among other aspects of the latter industry.
Regarding his meetings with Qatari authorities, Bolsonaro said that just like in the countries he visited before – he’s been to Japan and China –, there’s an interest in increasing and diversifying business.
“We already have something going on with the KC-390 (an Embraer military transportation aircraft), which is really successful around the world. Defense is [on the agenda] again. There’s a repetition and an expansion of the questions we have dealt with so far [during the trip],” the president said.
Another key topic was food security and the attraction of investments into Brazil’s food. “In the region’s countries, even China and Japan, [the UAE], and surely tomorrow (29) in Saudi Arabia, food security is the point that interests all of us the most. And Brazil has the capacity to provide this food security to many countries around the world,” he stated.
During the evening, in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, he spoke on the subject again. “Brazil is an important country in the world. Many around these parts are looking into the question of food security. We have it. We need to expand our agribusiness – we use just over 8% of our territory for agriculture. Brazil is the world leader in it and we are going to give it a boost,” he said.
Bolsonaro said he’ll sit down with Saudi authorities to discuss the resumption of chicken product exports from Brazilian suppliers whose sales were put on hold by the Arab country last January.
Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest markets for poultry from Brazil. “The message I’m going to bring is to ask them to consider increasing their imports, or resuming them,” he said.
The president believes there’s a chance that Brazil and Saudi Arabia will enter into even more agreements regarding agriculture. “Yes, the expectation is there. [Brazilian Agriculture minister] Tereza Cristina is doing a great job, she’s a giant in this field. There are almost 70 billion people more in the world each year, so there is a market for the food issue,” he argued.
Bolsonaro also believes there’s a possibility investors might get into infrastructure in Brazil. “Every country is interested in making infrastructure investments,” he said. “We are here to do business, our concern is with the economy. That’s our main focus.”
He also expects Arab investors to bid in the upcoming November 6 pre-salt auction. “They will likely be present at this mega auction. China will probably be present as well. I believe the entire world will be interested in it,” he said.
In Doha, apart from meeting with Qatar’s emir Tamin Bin Hamad Al Thani and his cabinet, Bolsonaro sat on the panel “Perspectives on Brazil’s Macroeconomic Scenario and Business Environment.” He also paid a visit to the Al Janoub soccer arena. In the photo at the beginning of this story, Qatar’s emir accepts a Flamengo jersey from Bolsonaro.
Before the World Cup, Qatar is set to host the FIFA Club World Cup next December. “The architecture is amazing. The details they worked out here, the accommodations, the warm-up area, the whole arena, the comfort,” he said while touring the venue. “I’m also here to see the site of the grand finals between Flamengo and Liverpool. I won’ won’t be here for it, i can’t make it, but I’ll be cheering on,” he said, betting that the Brazilian and British teams will make their way to the finals.
He also said he’d like to see Brazil in the 2022 World Cup finals. “That would be great, wouldn’t it? I think it’s time for Brazil to regain the status it always had in the soccer scene. We believe our past defeats will enable us to better prepare ourselves, and to evolve with our soccer as well,” he said.
Before leaving Abu Dhabi, UAE this Monday morning, Bolsonaro gave an interview to the Emirates News Agency (WAM). He said “Brazil is an Arab country,” in that many Brazilians are descendants of Arabs. He touched on the subject again at the arena in Doha.
“This is a way of showing the Arab world – unlike what was preached during my [2018 election] pre-campaign and campaign – that I have no enmities. They’d say that I’m really close with the Jews. That’s true, but I’m also close with the Arabs,” he said. “Soccer unites peoples, races, religions, everyone. That’s why I’m wearing the Qatar jersey, and we obviously know that Qatar is really evolving – maybe it’s too early to talk about Qatar in the [World Cup] finals, but [the country] will rise to prominence in the future, judging from how they behave here, with lots of professionalism, their soccer,” he concluded.
Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum