Bolsonaro seeks strong ties with the Middle East

middle east President Jair Bolsonaro during a 2019 to Saudi Arabia. Photo: José Dias/PR
President Jair Bolsonaro during a 2019 visit to Saudi Arabia. Photo: José Dias/PR

President Jair Bolsonaro on Monday said he expects visits from heads of state from Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates before his term concludes at the end of the year.

“We are working to host the Emir of Qatar, the King of Bahrain, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, and the new president of the United Arab Emirates in Brasilia this year,” Mr. Bolsonaro said in a previously-recorded video that aired during the fourth edition of the Brazil-Arab Countries Economic Forum.

“The Arab world is the third-largest market for Brazil abroad, second only to China and the U.S.,” Mr. Bolsonaro added. “From January to April [of this year], Brazil’s exports to the Arab world increased from USD 4 billion to USD 5.2 billion [on a yearly basis].”

Mr. Bolsonaro reminded business people that Brazil has 18 embassies throughout the 22 member states of the Arab League.

“At a time when the international community is looking for ways to guarantee the world’s food security, the link between Brazil and the Arab world becomes stronger,” added the president. “Brazil is currently the world’s largest exporter of halal protein.”

The Middle East is also an important destination for Brazilian arms, as The Brazilian Report revealed in November 2021.

President Bolsonaro began his administration on rough terms with Arab countries, publicly announcing his intention to follow Donald Trump’s footsteps and move Brazil’s Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Fearing impacts on Brazil’s halal meat exports, the government settled on opening a business office in the city.