So far, the world has experienced the aggressive business policies of China. Well, Brazilians are not lagging far behind as they have come across the all four corners of the world and even in Iraqi Kurdistan. A case in point is the São Paulo state native Marcelo Viana, the marketing manager for Iridium Solutions, an information technology company based in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region in Northern Iraq.
On the last Wednesday, 25th of September, Viana paid a visit to the Erbil International Fair, which has a Brazilian booth organized by the Arab Brazilian Chamber of Commerce and APEX, which is also known as Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency.
He used to live in Lebanon and work at the Middle East University, an Adventist educational institution in Beirut, first as a volunteer, then as an employee. Viana himself is an Adventist. There, he became acquainted with the company he works for now, owned by a Lebanese and an American, and even did some freelance work for them. “They liked my services and they hired me,” he said. “I wanted to try something new and I accepted the proposal,” he said.
The company provides services to oil companies, banks, hotels and other establishments, including the setting up of network systems, software and hardware. One of the company’s flagships is a structure within a container, including internet connection and servers, usually rented out by refineries for temporary jobs.
Viana has noted that the region is progressing at a steady pace and a lot of foreigners are moving to Kurdistan for demand of qualified labors. He mentioned, “What impressed me the most [about Erbil] was the size of the city and the fact that it is growing fast. New stores and malls are opening all the time and new products are arriving.”
He stated that he is definitely looking for good opportunity for investments at this region of Iraq, which has a peaceful ambience and the growth of the city is remarkable. The Brazilian added that the city is “peaceful and safe.” “You can walk around carefree with money on you, and the locals are adapting to this new [cosmopolitan] reality. There is a lot of openness,” he said.
Language is definitely a barrier at this moment and that is the only force that refraining the migles between administrators and labors. Older people speak Arabic, which younger people from this city speak in Kurdish. Viana guarantees, however, that this hasn’t been a problem to him, because in-company communication takes place in English. “But socializing with the locals is difficult,” he said.
“Brazilians have no problem adapting anywhere, everybody likes us here,” he said. Viana is 33 years old, single, with no children, and that makes it easier for him to live in foreign countries.
Apart from the shops and stores, there are restaurants, a bowling alley and a few movie theatres, which have opened recently – in the past, the only theatre was in Sulaymaniyah. “I find it interesting to witness this new reality,” he said. Visits to the ancient citadel and the downtown bazaar are popular among visitors.
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There are also bars in the Christian neighborhood of Ankawa and places in which to smoke shisha throughout the city, but Viana does not drink or smoke. Cultural options are few, and there seldom are any concerts or theatrical plays. “If everything works out, I plan on staying for another three years or so,” he said.
Another visitor to the Brazilian booth at the fair was the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani. Mr. prime minister has been awarded by a shirt of the Brazilian national team, by the Arab Brazilian Chamber CEO, Michel Alaby. Prime Minister of Kurdistan region has mentioned that he was really glad to receive this memento from them.
In high spirits, the politician spoke in good English. He asked about the Brazilian participation at the fair. “I said this is our third time [at the fair]; I also told him we have nine companies this year, and that we are planning on increasing [the number of participating companies],” said Alaby. “Great, we want to see more of Brazil in Kurdistan,” the prime minister retorted.