Brazil could be considered 'an Arab country', says nation's president

Jair Bolsonaro arrived in the UAE on an official three-day visit earlier this week

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Brazil could be considered “an Arab country" due to it having large numbers of people of Arabic descent, its president said on Sunday.

Jair Bolsonaro told the UAE’s government news agency, Wam, that his nation would always have a special welcome for those from the Middle East.

Speaking during an official visit to the Emirates this week, he said the two nations had much to gain from closer economic ties.

He described his trip as a “wonderful experience” and said he looked forward to new partnerships in food security, infrastructure, energy and transport.

"We [Brazil] always welcome everyone from the Arab world,” President Bolsonaro said while staying in the capital Abu Dhabi.

“We have more than five million people of Arab descent in our country. Brazil also can be considered as an Arab country."

President Bolsonaro, 64, arrived in the UAE after visiting Japan and China as part of a mission to deepen Brazil’s ties with key trade players around the world.

He held meetings with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai as well as Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

"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.

"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.

"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.

"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."

President Bolsonaro, leader of the ninth-largest economy in the world, also met a number of key UAE business leaders during his visit.

“Everything we discussed will be materialised,” he said. “We rely a lot on the UAE for the development of our 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. This has been a wonderful experience. I’m taking back memories that I will never forget."