South America’s largest nation and home to a large Arab Diaspora, Brazil is seeking Observer membership in the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). Mr. Sergio Luiz Canaes, the Ambassador of Brazil to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Yemen made an official request on behalf of the Foreign Minister of Brazil indicating Brazil’s interest in getting observer status in the OIC recently on an official visit to the OIC Secretariat in Saudi Arabia.

The 57-member grouping of mainly African, Asian and Arab nations are predominantly  Muslim but many countries like Guyana and Suriname with Muslim minorities are members.   The Russian Federation is an Observer member of the OIC as well.

Brazil wants to build closer ties with the organization and especially wants to consolidate stronger political, cultural and economic ties with Arab states. The OIC is eager to have Brazil on board and once it finalizes the criteria for granting observer status, Brazil will have no issue joining the block.

According Brazilian Foreign Minister, Mr. Itamaraty, the main objective of Brazil is to establish closer ties with the Muslim world.  Brazil also wants to be a partner of Muslim countries in the fight against intolerance and a peace broker in the Middle East. Brazil became the first South American country to recognize a Palestinian state which pushed other South American nations to do the same. Under the former president, Lula, Brazil emerged as a global economic and political power.  Recently, Brazil has stepped in the Middle East quagmire to broker a resolution between Iran, the United States and the European Union.

Brasilia also is seeking to increase trade and investment from the Arab/Islamic world and have attended several meetings of the World Islamic Economic Forum  Brazilian trade with Arab nations have increase about 400 percent since 2000.  Brazilian exports to Arab countries are at an all-time high, due mainly to food exports.  Middle Eastern countries bought $4.1 billion worth of goods in the first four months of 2011 alone, a 45% increase.  This is despite the political and social unrest in many Arab countries according to the publication, Investvine.
 
The OIC Secretariat located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia also confirmed that other nations are seeking membership.  The states that have requested OIC observer status are: Great Britain (since 2011), South Africa (since 2002), Sri Lanka (since 2008), the Philippines (since 2008), Serbia (since 2008) Nepal (2008), Democratic Republic of Congo (since 2008), Liberia. States seeking full membership are: The Republic of Mauritius (since 2002) and the Republic of Central Africa (since 2002).