Ambassador Fernando Luís Lemos Igreja
We had the pleasure to meet with His Excellency Fernando Luís Lemos Igreja at the Shangri-La Dubai recently for insights into his current work in the UAE. Born in Brasilia in 1965, His Excellency Fernando graduated with Bachelor of Laws from the University of Brasília and holds a Diplomat Career Preparation Course.
His Excellency Fernando has had an impressive Diplomatic career and his journey began in the Protocol Division and then as a Third Secretary in 1987. He thereafter served as Second Secretary, First Secretary, Counsellor, and a Minister before arriving in the UAE as an Ambassador in 2015.
His Excellency Fernando has been part of many missions in Brazil including summits, conferences, inaugurations and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio. He has also held Diplomatic positions in Permanent Missions abroad with the Embassy of Brazil in Lisbon, Portugal, Embassy of Brazil in Mexico City, Mexico, Embassy of Brazil in Paris, France, Embassy of Brazil in Algiers, Algeria and the Consulate General of Brazil in Boston.
His work with Temporary missions abroad has taken him to many countries that include, Cuba, Zambia, USA, Czech Republic, Cameroon, Spain and Guinea mostly as consul and Chargé D’ Affairs a.i. roles.
His Excellency Fernando had many decorations as well that includes the Grand Cross of the Order of Rio Branco, Brazil, Commander of the Legion d’Honneur, France, Knight of the National Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Knight of the National Order of Merit, Ecuador and Knight of the National Order of Merit, Portugal.
His Excellency Fernando currently lives in the UAE with his wife. He has three children and two step children. His daughter Carolina works with cinema, his two sons, Otavio studies in Sao Paulo after University while Marco lives in Canada working as an engineer in Toronto.
His Excellency Fernando was a teenager when he discovered diplomacy so he sat for an exam to enter the diplomatic academy, which led to his entire career. Being in Abu Dhabi since June 2017 has been an enriching experience for His Excellency Fernando and he confesses that he has become accustomed to a comfortable life in an agreeable city that makes him happy. Although the work is challenging with a lot of collaboration opportunities between Brazil and UAE, it is exciting at the same time and has been a rewarding experience.
Family members have played a crucial role in supporting the dynamic career of His Excellency Fernando. His father was not a diplomat but he was a public servant like his mother so they inspired him a great deal. His father was a positive person and enjoyed serving the country as well and that is something His Excellency Fernando has in common with him. His children and their mother have strongly supported him in the beginning of his career. His wife plays in a fundamental role in his performance as an Ambassador now.
In terms of milestones, His Excellency Fernando mentions that last year they had a very good Brazilian representation in the UAE in sports as well as visits by businessman and politicians. Brazil and UAE have a strong relationship in areas of defence and trade and the collaborations have been successful so far with a lot of support from the UAE Embassy in Brazil where the Ambassador H.E Hafsa Abdulla Mohamed Sharif Al Ulama worked hard to strengthen ties between the two countries.
His Excellency Fernando feels very much at home in the UAE as the key Brazilian products are available easily here such as Yoka flour, coffee, cheese bread from suppliers. He feels that Brazil has very similar cultural similarities between the Arabic and hence he enjoys travelling through the seven Emirates.
Currently sugar, meat, soybean, iron, stone and private jets from Brazil are popular for import to the UAE as well as the steel trade via Oman. His Excellency Fernando also intends to introduce Brazilian artists to the UAE.
To the younger generation, His Excellency Fernando tells that Diplomacy is an amazing profession and the job is made easier with current ease of communications with Internet. His favourite memory in the UAE is the National day with the seven rulers walking together. This image of the UAE, the Union of the seven rulers walking together to the monument is something special.
His Excellency Fernando mentions that there are already a three direct flights per day from Dubai to Sao Paolo with Emirates but there is scope for more especially with Expo 2020 where Brazil has already confirmed participation and the work has already began on the pavilion.
On the personal front, His Excellency Fernando likes going to the gym to swim and as his wife has just retired from her job, they enjoy spending time reading and watching movies. In the future he hopes to spend time with his grandchildren.
His Excellency Fernando concludes our interview with hopes to strengthen ties between the UAE and Brazil in all aspects of industry, economy and tourism. We wish him the very best in all this endeavours during his stay in UAE.