By Sam Bridge
Jair Bolsonaro says he has been treated 'very well' during visit to the UAE and will take home memories he will 'never forget'
Brazil can be "considered as an Arab country" due to a huge number of people of Arab descent in its population of more than 200 million, according to the country's President Jair Bolsonaro.
He told state news agency WAM in an interview during a visit to the UAE that he had been treated "very well" and had had meetings with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
"We always welcome everyone from the Arab world. We have more than 5 million people of Arab descent in our country, [therefore], Brazil also can be considered as an Arab country," he said.
The leader of the ninth-largest economy in the world said that he started his Gulf visit in the UAE after visiting Japan and China, as part of a mission to deepen Brazil’s ties with key trade players in the world.
"So now we have come to the Arab world, starting in the UAE," the president said. "This is the first time I am visiting an Arab country and I am treated very well."
"Yesterday [Saturday] when I went to a shopping mall [in Abu Dhabi], some shoppers recognised me and I felt at home," he told WAM, adding: "I am extremely pleased to be here. This is a country that holds no prejudice. People here respect each other, especially when it comes to religions and choices"
He said: "Our relations [Brazil and the UAE] are excellent at the moment... we have a lot to offer to the UAE and so does the UAE."
"My relationship with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed is the best relationship possible," Bolsonaro said. "We had a private meeting; we have a very good understanding. There was candidness, sincerity and trust in my meeting with him, and I think we can be assured that our countries are moving ahead towards prosperity and closer ties."
He also met with a number of UAE government officials and people in the business community.
"Everything we discussed will be materialised. We rely a lot on the UAE for the development of our country. This has been a wonderful experience so far. I’m taking back memories that I will never forget."
The two countries agreed on Sunday to expand trade and foster fund partnerships in food security, agribusiness, infrastructure, energy, transport, innovation and defense.
The Latin American giant is also expecting the UAE’s participation in the exploration and production in offshore oil blocks in the country.
"In the next few weeks, we will be holding a major auction in the oil sector and prominent offshore oil companies from across the globe will be participating in it. I hope the UAE [companies] will also take part," the Brazilian President said.
Bolsonaro also said that aircraft manufacturing would be another area of cooperation between Brazil and the UAE.