São Paulo – The Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce board of directors convened on Wednesday (4) at the organization’s headquarters with religious leaders from different denominations, diplomats and Arab community leaders in São Paulo for a pre-holiday get-together dinner.
“We had another ecumenical dinner with people with different outlooks, from different institutions and different religions, united by mutual respect,” said Arab Chamber president Rubens Hannun (pictured). “Our community values specific cultures,” he said.
The Chamber hosts such dinners twice a year: once during Ramadan – the most important month in the Islamic calendar – and once before Christmas and the Christian New Year. “We are united here out of respect towards these two cultures,” said Hannun.
Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral priest Gregório Teodoro spoke on behalf of São Paulo Antiochian Orthodox Church archbishop Dom Damaskinos Mansour, who was away on a trip. “[This meeting] is such a welcome, necessary initiative in our times,” he said. “Diversity in the world and among human beings is the will of God,” he went on.
He wished happy holidays, “a blessed end-of-year and a new year filled with joy and accomplishments.” “Unity in spite of differences shows that peaceful coexistence is possible all over the world,” he said. “We wish that peace, God’s peace, celestial peace be in the hearts of everyone,” he concluded.
Sheikh Mohammad Al Bukai of São Paulo’s Brazil Mosque argued that the Arab Brazilian Chamber conveys an important message with these get-togethers. “That [the organization] isn’t just about business; that it connects human beings as it builds bridges not just among Brazil and the Arab countries, but also within the community in Brazil,” he said.
Al Bukai said the biggest investment one can make is in human beings. “Towards the end of the year we tend to reflect about our lives. Life goes on fast, but we can leave a legacy, and the best thing we can leave behind is this brotherhood among us,” said the sheikh, referring to coexistence between people from different backgrounds and creeds.
Apart from Christian and Muslim religious leaders, the dinner was attended by Kuwait ambassador to Brasília Nasser Almotairi, Lebanon consul-general to São Paulo Rudy El Azzi, UAE consul-general to São Paulo Salem Alalawi, Arab Chamber board members, and delegates from organizations including the Federation of Muslim Associations in Brazil (Fambras), the Center for Promotion of Islam in Latin America (Cdial), the Federation of Arab-Brazilian Entities (Fearab), the Syrian Sports Club, Club Homs, Rachaia Clube, and the Institute for Arab Culture (Icarabe).
Thursday evening (5) at the Arab Chamber headquarters will see the launch of the Kuwait Cultural Week, with events starting Friday (6) in São Paulo. “Without the Arab Chamber’s support we wouldn’t have been able to have the Kuwait Cultural Week,” ambassador Almotairi said. “Since 1968, when Brazil and Kuwait established diplomatic ties, this is the first time that such a week takes place,” he stated.
More on Kuwait Cultural Week attractions coming soon on ANBA.
Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum