‘We sense a palpable excitement all around’

It’s just a matter of weeks before the FIFA World Cup begins in Brazil. And the football fever is gradually catching up in Oman as well with campaigns, such as the one being run by Bank Muscat, offering fans a chance to win free tickets to Brazil for the mega event.

Muscat Daily  caught up with H E Mitzi Gurgel Valente da Costa, the Brazilian Ambassador to Oman, to know more about the preparations at the embassy as more and more people from the sultanate show interest in visiting Brazil for the World Cup. Excerpts:

Are there any special plans on your part to attract more visitors from Oman during the FIFA World Cup?

Our main objective would be to facilitate the issuance of visas for those who want to go to Brazil. We would like to encourage as many as possible. Also, the embassy would provide all the relevant information and access to the best service possible [to visitors from Oman].

 

With the World Cup just weeks away, how would you describe the interest levels among Omanis and expats in Oman wanting to visit Brazil for the event?

We sense a palpable excitement all around. The embassy is getting lots of queries. People are asking how they can get visas, what documents they need to show etc.

I would presume that the closer we get to the World Cup, maybe around late May, there would be more people coming in requesting for visas. Most people are also starting to finalise their air tickets now, which is one of the proofs (documents) required to process the visa application.

 

Are you getting queries on tickets as well?

Some people ask me about the sale of tickets on and off. However, it’s not Brazil that’s selling tickets, it’s the FIFA. Brazil is hosting the event, so the embassy is not into selling tickets.

 

How many visas has the Brazilian Embassy issued so far to visitors from Oman who plan to travel to Brazil during the June 12-July 13 World Cup? 

We know there’s a lot of interest here and we expect many people to be going from Oman. We have issued 116 visas this year so far (till May 12). The number is likely to increase significantly in the coming weeks as we are already witnessing a rise in the number of queries.

I’m sure that had the Omani team been in the World Cup, it would have been a gold rush.

Also as the host nation, Brazil has sent out the customary official invitation to all the head of states and governments. So, we are hoping some high-level dignitaries from Oman will attend the World Cup inaugural ceremony.

 

Is the Brazilian Embassy planning to promote special events in the run-up to the event and also during the World Cup? Are you planning public screenings of the matches?

Yes, we will be supporting initiatives for World Cup-related special events.

Regarding public screenings, the timing appears to be a problem considering most of the matches will be held in the wee hours – probably 2am or 3am as per Oman time. The opening game is around midnight. So it’s a bit complicated, but we would certainly like to get together for the big matches.

I believe Bank Muscat is planning something [for public screenings of matches] so we can even do it together. We can put up seats and screens here [at the Brazilian Embassy]. The floor will then be available for anybody who wants to come. Especially, if Brazil reaches the finals, the embassy will certainly organise something to make the day memorable.

 

Bank Muscat is among the 20 global banks that are chosen as partners of FIFA World Cup 2014. The bank is currently running the Bank Muscat Visa campaign which will see 66 of its customers in Oman winning trips to Brazil and witnessing the World Cup matches. What is your impression of the campaign?

It’s a great campaign. Bank Muscat is doing a wonderful job by putting up information about Brazil. Their initiative is encouraging people to visit Brazil for the World Cup. I attended one of the Bank Muscat events and it was very well organised.

Even McDonald’s has taken the initiative and offering free tickets. These events are very important in highlighting the World Cup and attracting people to Brazil. We are supporting such events by providing them with information, banners, posters, flags and also with our presence. Also, we will facilitate the visas for the lucky winners.

 

In what way has the visit of the Brazilian Vice President, Michel Temer in April last year contributed to improving bilateral ties?

Vice President Temer’s visit served mostly in putting Brazil in Oman’s horizons. Our economic engagements have increased and bilateral trade stands at US$1.2bn.

The Brazilian Vice President was accompanied by a big business delegation, which showed Brazil’s keenness in boosting trade and industrial investment in Oman.

Brazilian mining giant Vale’s presence in Oman could become a catalyst for more Brazilian companies to follow suit. We would like to see further presence of Brazilian enterprises in Oman, making more investments and providing more job opportunities for Omanis which will support the sultanate’s ‘Omanisation’ programme.

We signed several agreements and we hope that these will come into operation shortly. The visit laid the foundation for setting up of a joint committee, which will facilitate deeper and better exchanges between Brazil and Oman.

We also signed an agreement on cooperation and exchange programmes in sports.

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