New highway delights Lankan expats

Updated 27 October 2013
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New highway delights Lankan expats

Sri Lankans in the Kingdom expressed delight over the opening of the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (CKE), which would take them to the island’s capital in 20 minutes from Colombo airport instead of the regular two hours duration in the past.
The high mobility link between Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake and the capital Colombo will be realized on Sunday with the opening of the Colombo-Katunayake Expressway (CKE) by the country’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The link between the International Airport and Colombo with enhanced safety is designed to boost the country’s economy in addition to providing pleasant travel for road users.
The 25.8 km long CKE is a four-lane user-fee levying highway with a designed top speed of 100 kmph. It consists of three interchanges, namely Peliyagoda, Jaela and Katunayake. It connects the CKE to the Outer Circular Highway (OCH) at Kerawalapitiya junction.
The expressway has been constructed according to international standards to ensure the safety of road users and emphasis has been given to increase the mental and physical comfort of passengers and drivers, according to the Road Development Authority.
The Ministry of Highways has announced the toll fee for vehicles using the CKE from Peliyagoda to Katunayake, indicating that the toll fee for cars, cabs, jeeps, and small vans will be Rs300, while the total toll fees for lorries and buses will be Rs600.
“This is a good news to all Sri Lankans as well as tourists, who use the Colombo airport,” Ali Packeer, an accountant at a steel company in Riyadh told Arab News yesterday. He added that in the past traveling to Colombo took more than two hours because of the heavy early morning school traffic.
Priyan Attygalle, chief executive officer of American Express said that most international airports in different countries have a highway to go to the city center. “I am very happy our country is now blessed with a similar facility, which is going to help everyone who frequents Colombo airport for business and leisure travels,” he noted.
Attygalle also said that people who go on short trips do not like to spend hours on traffic to reach their destination.
Another banker who works for an Arab Bank said that this project fosters a better image of the country to foreigners who visit the country for various purposes.
An Indian expatriate, who frequents Colombo for business purposes, said that in the recent past it took nearly two hours to reach Colombo from Katunayake airport. “It only takes one hour to come to Colombo from India by air. The investors who came to Sri Lanka were very much concerned about this delay.”
“The opening of the expressway and the short time that will be taken to reach Colombo will boost investment and tourism,” Secretary to the Ministry of Highways Ranjith Premasiri said in a statement made in Colombo yesterday.


Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

Masjid Quba in Madinah is a favorite destination for Hajj pilgrims, according to tour guides. Below: The Cave of Hira, Al-Baqi’ cemetery and the Prophet’s Chamber allow visitors to step back in time. (Getty Images)
Updated 15 August 2018
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Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

  • A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities
  • Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies

RIYADH: Hajj is one of the biggest dreams of every Muslim’s life, and pilgrims looking forward to their stay in Makkah and Madinah say a bucket list is the best way to plan the trip. 

Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies. Standing in the places of the Holy Prophet transports them back to the past as if they lived those incredible moments. 

A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities.

Sayed Shafei, an operation manager for City Sightseeing, a tour company in Madinah and worldwide, told Arab News: “We offer a special tour with a multilingual tour guide presented in eight languages. We also offer 24-hour tickets. We have scheduled tourism trips starting from the Prophet’s Mosque to 12 destinations every 30 minutes. The whole trip lasts for 14 hours a day.” 

Asked about the most popular requests, Shafei said: “Our customers always ask to visit Masjid Quba, the Sayed Al-Shuhada Mosque in Uhud, which is considered a vital historic landmark of Madinah, and Al-Qiblatain Mosque.” 

Most of the group’s customers are from East Asia, but many also visit from Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US and Europe.

Munirah Al-Jebreen, an English instructor at Princess Noura University who will perform Hajj this year, told Arab News her bucket list began with an online search. 

“I found a travel guide on Google that has all the best sites in Madinah and Makkah, so I decided to visit Uthman ibn Affan’s Farm and Well in Madinah, the Holy Qur’an exhibition, and one of the most important places I want to visit is the grave of the Holy Prophet,” she said.

The area between the Prophet’s Chamber, which holds his grave, and the Mimbar is known as the Rawdah, which is actually the Garden of Paradise. It is presently distinguished by a green carpet.

Al-Jebreen also listed some of her planned tour destinations in Makkah, including the Cave of Hira, where the Holy Prophet meditated frequently during the first 40 years of his life and the site of the first revelation. 

She will also visit Bilal Mosque and Mount Abu Qubais and, finally, will try Al-Garmushi, one of the famous traditional restaurants in Makkah.