GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
Carvalho Pinto
First Name:
Title of Paper:
UAE and Brazil: Ideas, perceptions and perspectives of unlikely allies
Paper Proposal Text :
For the past decade, the UAE has been fashioning itself as a role model in a variety of fields, which have included humanitarian aid, fight against terrorism, investment in renewable energy, among several others. In fact, the Emirates’ international projection of a model to be followed especially by other Arab states has become so dominant that it can be considered as a meta-role i.e. an all-embracing projection that characterises the way the UAE portrays itself in the international arena. The projection of certain international roles does not occur in a vacuum; they are directed at specific audiences so as to generate carefully crafted impressions of what the UAE are and stand for as a country. Most of the UAE international projections are directed at a western audience, particularly the US for reasons associated to the country’s survival and territorial integrity. The audience receives those images and in turn reinterprets them according to its own vision of the world and pre-existing perceptions about the country, giving rise to a certain role expectation. In this paper, I propose to study Brazil’s role expectation of the UAE as regards two fields of common interest: humanitarian aid and investment in renewable energy.
Both within Latin American and Gulf Studies, it is quite unusual to focus on relations between countries hailing from these two regions, especially because dealings among them are comparatively few. There is usually very little literature or information on which to elaborate upon and existing works tend to focus on describing the evolution of trade links. In the case of the UAE and Brazil, even though both countries have decades-long relations, the topic has so far not attracted much scholarly attention. Interactions between them can be understood within a general context of diversification of partnerships and opening up of new business opportunities. For the UAE in particular, relations with Brazil can be read as attempts to further its own immersion into the international system by increasing the number of partners and expanding the areas of engagement, both traditionally important goals of Emirati foreign policy. In order to ascertain the construction of the Brazilian image of the UAE as regards the fields of humanitarian aid and investment in green energy, I will resort to the application of the method of examination framing in the formulation proposed by Jean Garrison (with an added criterion by Juan Cole) within the field of political psychology. The use of this framework is particularly relevant for the examination of the case at hand for it allows for the ascertaining of the elements that inform the construction of Brazil’s role expectation of the UAE. It will proceed through the systematic application of the following criteria: 1) history/symbolism of the matter presented having as basis the relationship between Brazil and the UAE; 2) internal and external cost of accepting or rejecting the images projected by the UAE; 3) cultural relations, values and beliefs shared between the UAE and Brazil; 4) degree of legitimacy the UAE has in these two fields in the eyes of Brazil.
As regards the application of the first criterion, it will be investigated how receptive Brazil is to these two images. It will be argued that since the latter also holds a strong narrative of a humanitarian and caring country, which in addition claims to possess the cleanest energetic matrix of the world, Brazil is particularly receptive to these projections. In terms of cost, Brazil has strong economic interests in maintaining and improving relations with the UAE, as the latter is the second-largest importer of Brazilian products in the Arab world. The third criterion connects with the first, as both images resonate with the Brazilian national narrative. As regards the fourth and final criterion, it is necessary to investigate the Brazilian perceptions that inform the ways these images are received. In order to do so, structured and semi-structured interviews with experts in Brazilian foreign policy, high-level Brazilian officials and diplomats are foreseen. In addition to these, the article will also make use of primary sources such as official documents and speeches by relevant decision-makers from both countries as well as secondary literature on UAE and Brazilian foreign policy as well on Brazilian nationalism.