São Paulo – The event that has become the place to be for Brazilians and Arabs, the Economic Forum Brazil & Arab Countries, is taking place online from October 19 to 22. Hosted by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) and themed “The Future is Now,” it will run the gamut of Brazilian-Arab relations, featuring government officials – including some heads of state –, institutions such as chambers of commerce, and businesses.
The forum will include discussion panels, the signing of agreements, and an exhibition featuring Brazilian and Arab companies. Discussions will take place in an enhanced streaming platform, with translation available into Arabic, Portuguese and English. The exhibition will feature a computer-generated 3D environment. Everything will be accessed via the same link, allowing viewers to choose to see the corporate showcase or watch the discussion forum.
The event had been slated to take place last April in São Paulo, but this was made impossible by the coronavirus pandemic. ABCC president Rubens Hannun argues that the Forum has taken on a great symbolic meaning: “The theme remains relevant, and it has taken on added meaning, because the future is what we are experiencing right now. It’s utterly imponderable,” he told ANBA. According to Hannun, the future has arrived, and we cannot sit and wait to see how it will turn out. “We must design it right now.”
In addition to the Forum’s overarching theme, there will be a specific topic each day. Day one will cover the outlook for Brazil and the Arab countries amid the new global situation. Day two will address whether we are in a new world order. Day three will focus on the Brazilian-Arab partnership towards food security. Day four will feature discussions on the relevance of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) in present times.
Government was chosen to wrap up the event. “This final subject is highly symbolic. It’s about the direction we want to steer the world on,” says Hannun. All other topics – the world order, the perspectives for countries, and food security – converge towards governance. “It all requires sustainability. It requires a cared-for, solid society. It requires conscious corporations, and we need to discuss how we can achieve that.”
The Forum is taking place in a virtual setting that’s tailored to the new reality, and it will delve into Arab-Brazilian relations, which have also been transformed by the situation. Hannun remarks that Arabs have always imparted much importance to doing business one-on-one. He notes that the ABCC has worked to keep Arab-Brazilian ties alive through these times of Covid-19. “We carried our relations over to the digital realm.”
Since the onset of the pandemic, the ABCC has been hosting actions such as webinars featuring Arab and Brazilian speakers. It created an online committee to address requests from Arab countries, and it announced the ABCC Lab, a laboratory to foster business innovation and technology in the context of Arab-Brazilian relations. The online Forum will be the culmination of this digital connection between different regions.
The ABCC’s president argues that a time will come when Arabs and Brazilians will be able to get together in person again, and then two avenues for connection will be available – one-on-one and online. “It will be a great improvement, because we will have these two worlds.” However, waiting for things to go back to normal would be like freezing up relations for a while, and then we’d find ourselves in a world changed by the events, says Hannun.
“If we were to just leave things for later, then two plus two would at most equal four. Doing this now means that two plus two will equal much more than four. If we hadn’t been doing this right now, then we’d be failing to fulfil the ABCC’s role of connecting Arabs and Brazilians. If we can’t connect them in the flesh, we must find a way to do it. This is our job.”
The Forum will include the presentation of a survey conducted earlier this year by H2R Pesquisas Avançadas and Ibope Inteligência on Arab immigration to Brazil and released by the ABCC. “We’ll show the Arab world the extent to which Brazil is integrated with Arabs. The Arab community in Brazil attests to the strength of the Brazilian-Arab connection,” says Hannun. A preview will be made available of another survey, done amid the pandemic, on new consumption habits in Arab countries, and the new behavior of Arab and Brazilian businesses in B2B. This survey was carried out by Asfour, a network of research institutes put together by H2R in the Arab countries.
The Arab Chamber is expecting Arabs, Brazilians and people from elsewhere to join the Economic Forum Brazil & Arab Countries. Hannun claims that the online format will make the event more accessible. he hopes that people in Arab countries not as connected with Brazil, such as the Comoros and Somalia, will also participate. They can view whatever parts of the Forum they might be interested in, during whatever time they have available. Registration is open and the event is free of charge.
More on the Forum will be available on ANBA over the next few days.
Economic Forum Brazil & Arab Countries
October 19-22, 2020
9 am-1:30 pm
8:30 am-1:30 pm on the 19th
Click here to register
Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum