Arab News – The fourth Summit of the Arab-South American Countries, better known as ASPA in Spanish acronym, is the latest manifestation of the link between the two regions going back over 100 years, say experts.
The influence is evident in Andalusian tradition and folklore and can be seen in architecture and agriculture. South American languages also contain about 500 Arabic words, they say.
There are reports of over 3 million Arabs migrating to South America after Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus first landed on the continent. However, an Arab cultural expert said the arrival of Arabs in South America predated that of Columbus by at least 50 years.
They cited evidence found in caves in the Bahamas in the Gulf of Mexico, which included skulls belonging to Arab residents who had settled on the continent before the arrival of Columbus.
In a working paper, entitled “The future of the South American-Arab cultural dialogue,” presented during the third meeting of culture ministers from Arab and South American nations in Saudi Arabia last year, he said that Brazilian women were inspired by the Andalusian dress code and adjusted their lifestyle to that of women from Sicily during that period.
They said that Arabic is a truly global language, with a study showing Britons now preferring to learn Arabic rather than French because six Arabic-speaking countries were among the largest export markets for the United Kingdom.
Moreover, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also adopted a proposal to establish a South American-Arab dialogue, based on cultural similarities between the two regions.
The Kingdom has attempted to further bolster ties with initiatives including the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Cultural Dialogue at the United Nations.

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