(MENAFN - Brazil-Arab News Agency (ANBA)) Bruna Garcia Fonseca
São Paulo – Brazil's minister of Science, Technology, Innovation and Communications, Marcos Cesar Pontes, has been in the United Arab Emirates since last Sunday (23), visiting strategic locations of research and innovation. He had a meeting at the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre. Pontes told ANBA that the visit opened up possibilities for partnerships and memorandums of understanding, and that technical teams from both countries are set to meet over the next months to formulate agreements to be signed when president Jair Bolsonaro visits the UAE.
'The president will probably visit the UAE in October or November,' Pontes said. He and his team met two Emirati training astronauts at the Space Centre. The first Arab astronaut is set to go to the international space station in September, according to him. 'We were warmly received. The astronauts asked for suggestions and guidance about life in space,' said Pontes.
ANBA talked on the phone with minister Pontes, the ministry's executive secretary Julio Semeghine, the ministry's Policies for Formation and Strategic Actions secretary Marcelo Morales, and Brazil's ambassador to the UAE Fernando Igreja on Monday afternoon (24).
Semenghini reported they talked about an education agreement to introduce a space engineering grad course and specialization course in Brazil. According to him, the UAE already produces satellite parts, while Brazil is starting in this sector, so both countries have a lot to share. 'It's very nice to see how the UAE are tuned to the space. They are very fond of astronauts,' said Semeghini. Ambassador Igreja told it was challenging to set minister Pontes' schedule since so many authorities wanted to meet him, both because of his work at the ministry and his work as a Brazilian astronaut.
Pontes visited the minister for Youth, Shamma Al Mazrui, and told he was surprised to see the science, technology and entrepreneurship infrastructure in the country. 'At the Ministry for Youth, they have a coworking space, with Internet access, a video and podcast recording studio, a place for lectures and meetings, an arts room, and a space to exhibit products. We want to follow this format in our more than 100 digital inclusion centers around Brazil,' he said.
On Sunday, he met with the minister for Advanced Sciences, Sarah Amiri, and the minister for Artificial Intelligence, Omar Al Olama, with whom the Brazilian delegation talked about potential agreements and partnerships. 'We will create the Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity Laboratory to be based in São Paulo in partnership with the government of the state and USP (University of São Paulo). It's interesting to see that the UAE has a minister solely focused on artificial intelligence; it shows how they are willing to invest in this sector. And we had a few good surprises during ourvisit. We want to engage in partnerships and cooperation agreements on scientific research between Brazil and the UAE, which are not yet in place,' Pontes said.
This Monday (24), the delegation went to the city ofMasdarin the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The planned city is under construction, set to be fully sustainable and carbon-free. 'We saw models and a part of the city being built, and it's interesting that, in addition to the concern with a sustainable development, we saw the social concern the country has in taking clean energy to the least privileged, as they done in Haiti; it's important to think about renewable energies,' Pontes said. Masdar houses the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology as well as sustainable enterprises.
TheKhalifa University , a university in Abu Dhabi focused on science, was another destination of the Brazilian delegation. Marcelo Morales told ANBA that they intend to start an interchange between biotechnology and aerospace researchers and students from that university and Brazilian institutions soon.
In the afternoon, Marcos Pontes was received by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and deputy prime minister Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 'I noticed a willingness to create a cooperation between our countries, both in universities and the space sector. We had a good preliminary talk, so I imagine that when president Bolsonaro comes, he'll have some papers to sign. It will be a very productive visit,' the minister said.
Semeghini added: 'It's hard to meet so many ministers well-prepared and willing to make agreements.' The delegation also met with the minister of state for Foreign Affairs, Zaki Nusseibeh. 'We had high-level talks, even with the crown prince, who talked for more than half an hour with minister Pontes, which is rare. They're very committed in cooperating with Brazil,' ambassador Igreja said.
Mubadalawas yet another destination of the Brazilian minister. The state-owned investment company is one of world's most important. 'They are keenly interested in defense, information and healthcare technology. It's a very appropriate time to strengthen investment and opportunities between our countries,' Semeghini said.
Pontes also went toDP World , a Dubai-based port operator that works in Port of Santos and has increased its presence in Latin America, andYahsat , a satellite communication company that is a Mubadala subsidiary and already operates in 19 Brazilian states.
Translated by Guilherme Miranda