By Binsal Abdulkader
ABU DHABI, 28th September, 2023 (WAM) -- The increased cultural interactions between Brazil and the UAE in recent years have helped build a closeknit connection between both peoples, a top Brazilian diplomat told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
Performances of Brazilian musicians in the UAE in recent years have played a major role in strengthening that cultural connection, and the latest in that series will be of Gilberto Gil, one of the giants of Brazilian pop music who had also served as Brazil's Minister of Culture, on Friday evening (29th September) at Dubai Opera, said Leandro Vieira Silva, charge d'affaires, a.i., at the Brazilian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Diversified cultural relations
"Brazil and the UAE specifically have come a long way in bilateral cultural affairs, in a very diversified way. This is yet another element of the depth of our ties," he stressed.
Explaining the broader cultural links between both peoples, Vieira Silva added, "Brazil is a mosaic of cultures, and Arab traditions are an integral part of our culture and of who we are as Brazilian nationals. Arabic has an enormous influence in the Portuguese language; Arab cuisine is part of everyday life all over Brazil; and so is the case with culture, music, and traditions."
It is in this broader context, the diplomat noted, "we ought to frame Gilberto Gil's concert as an opportunity to bring our countries and peoples ever closer together. Gilberto Gil, 81, is a giant of Brazilian popular music expression, who continues to influence the development of our music in his 60-year career."
The diplomat said he is delighted that the big community of Brazilian nationals living in the UAE will certainly love to sing-along some of Gil's greatest hits. "I am also confident that the broader community of Emiratis and expatriates will appreciate experiencing a truly remarkable Brazilian evening in Dubai."
60-year music career
Gil's official biography says he began playing the accordion in the 1950s after being influenced by Luiz Gonzaga, radio, and religious processions in Northeast Brazil. Gil put down the accordion and picked up the acoustic and electric guitars after being influenced by the sand and sea-themed songs of Joao Gilberto, Bossa Nova, and Dorival Caymmi.
After being in exile in London for a while, Gil returned to Brazil and continued his prolific phonographic production, which resulted in the recording of over 60 albums, four million album sales, and nine Grammy awards.
In 2003 as Minister of Culture, he led Brazil's cultural presence around the world working on topics ranging from new technologies, copyright, cultural development and diversity and the importance of South American countries in the globalized world. His actions earned him many accolades, such as Artist of Peace by UNESCO in 1999, FAO Ambassador, France's Legion d'Honneur, Sweden's Polar Music Prize, among many others.
Series of performances
The Brazilian diplomat continued to say that performances of Brazilian musicians in recent years in the UAE have been a huge success. A young virtuoso violinist, Guido Sant'Anna, played in 2021 in Dubai together with the youth orchestra of the UAE, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF). A youth orchestra from Brazil played classical Brazilian repertoire during EXPO 2020 Dubai last year.
A troupe of Brazilian capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian dance and martial art which involves music, had performed during the Festival of Tolerance in 2019.
"Still, there is an incredible potential for improving our mutual knowledge and appreciation," Vieira Silva noted.
Sports, martial art, and literature
The diplomat added that sports and martial arts have been an important element of cultural interaction between Brazil and the UAE.
"Brazilian jiu-jitsu has also brought our peoples together; the UAE has embraced jiu-jitsu and hundreds of Brazilian nationals currently teach this martial art in public schools."
When it comes to football, Brazilians have provided coaches to the UAE national team in the past and many Brazilian players have played for UAE local teams, including in the current season, Vieira Silva explained.
Literary interactions have also been on the forefront, he pointed out. Brazil has participated in Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, involving Brazilian authors of Arab descent, the diplomat added.