Arab Chamber honors outgoing Lebanon consul

07 de dezembro de 2017

São Paulo – The Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon this Thursday (7) to honor Lebanon’s consul general to São Paulo, Kabalan Frangieh, whose tenure is ending after five and a half years stationed in Brazil. The farewell event took place in the Arab Chamber headquarters in São Paulo.

“This event is an acknowledgement of the work performed by the ambassador in Brazil,” said Arab Chamber president Rubens Hannun. The diplomat will assume the post of ambassador of Lebanon to Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to Hannun, during Frangieh’s time in office, integration improved between Lebanon and the Arab community in São Paulo, which is primarily made up of Syrian and Lebanese immigrants and descendants.

He underscored the diplomat’s particular role in cultural and social relations, and as a case in point he mentioned a trilingual education project in São Paulo.

“The Arab Chamber is the home of Arab countries and of Lebanon [in Brazil],” Hannun told ANBA. “As long as he [Frangieh] can convey some of his memories of us to the world, that means he’ll spread our Brazilian example of integration, because diplomats who spend time in one country will always carry the relationships and experiences that they had with them,” he claimed.

Regarding the trilingual education project, the consul explained to ANBA that from August 2018 on, school chain Maple Bear’s unit in the Vila Olímpia neighborhood of São Paulo will be taught in Portuguese, English and Arabic, in an effort backed by the consulate.

He also said the number of Lebanon packages from travel agencies is increasing, and the consulate is encouraging this too. Tour operator CVC, for instance, has recently made three options available for Lebanon natives and descendants who live in Brazil, as previously reported by ANBA.

In turn, the consul said the Arab community in Brazil is special, and that the Arab Chamber is testament to this. “The impression I get is that the community is doing well, because it is making progress,” he stated. “Organizations like the Arab Chamber and others make me feel very proud and assured about the community as a whole,” he said.

Frangieh said the Arab colony has succeeded in building strong entities such as chambers of commerce, clubs, hospitals and charities that do relevant work in Brazil. “It is the job of these institutions to help the Arab countries as well,” he said, advocating that the organizations should become more active in the Middle East and North Africa.

The diplomat remarked that although the Arab world and Brazil are deeply connected to one another, particularly due to immigration, the economic ties they sustain are not as strong as they should be. “The Arab world is going through a difficult time, but soon the entire region will stabilize, and then business between Arab countries and Brazil will increase, and the Arab Chamber will have a lot of work to do,” he said. “The Chamber will assist Lebanon and all Arab countries in finding markets,” he added.

Frangieh noted that the Arab Chamber has solid connections with the embassies and consulates of Arab countries in Brazil and that he was always able to rely on the organization for support. One such occasion was the Lebanese Diaspora Energy conference held in November 2016 in São Paulo. The event was attended by the Chamber’s then-Foreign Trade vice president Hannun, CEO Michel Alaby and then-president Marcelo Sallum. “I am certain that this support will also be in place for the incoming consul,” he said.

What the future holds

Frangieh explained that in assuming his post at the Embassy of Lebanon in Johannesburg, he will also become the non-resident ambassador to 11 other African countries. “The Lebanese community there goes back a long time, and we will encourage them to make more investments in Lebanon and in these other countries,” he explained. “There are very strong communities, for instance, in Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, which have a close-knit connection with Lebanon, and this helps build an exchange,” he said.

Luncheon guests included UAE consul general to São Paulo Ibrahim Salem Alalawi, Arab Chamber board chairman Walid Yazigi, Brazil-Lebanon Chamber of Commerce board chairman Riad Curi, Arab Chamber vice presidents Osmar Chohfi (International Relations), Adel Auada (Administrative) and Riad Younes (Marketing), treasurer director Nahid Chicani, directors Mohamed Abdouni and Mohamed Mourad, ambassador Ramez Goussous and former Chamber presidents Marcelo Sallum, Orlando Sarhan and Salim Taufic Shahin.

*Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum