Colombo says donated Saudi dates ‘properly distributed’

Updated 09 June 2014
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Colombo says donated Saudi dates ‘properly distributed’

A senior Muslim minister in Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Cabinet has rejected claims of irregularities in the distribution of dates donated by the Saudi government.
The dates donated by the Saudi government in April were distributed among needy communities in Sri Lanka without any bias, said Abdul Hameed Mohammed Fowzie, senior minister for Urban Affairs and minister-in-charge of Haj Affairs.
He told Arab News that 200 metric tons of dates had been donated by the Kingdom to the Sri Lankan government to be distributed among the deserving people in the island.
Neomal Perera, deputy minister of external affairs, had accepted the dates officially from the Saudi government in April.
The dates which were contained in 2 kg packets were clearly printed with labels saying ‘From Saudi Arabia — Not for sale.’
Fowzie was reacting to what he called mischievous reports in some anti-Sri Lanka websites that wrongly claimed irregularities in the distribution of dates donated by the Saudi government this year.
He explained that a special consignment of dates would arrive in Sri Lanka soon, which will be distributed among the mosques on the island during Ramadan.
“This will be carried out on a special directive from President Rajapaksa at state expense,” he added.
A media release from Sri Lanka’s External Affairs Ministry said the government in Colombo is deeply appreciative of the recent generous donation of 200 metric tons of dates by Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to the people of Sri Lanka.
“As desired by the donor, the dates would be distributed in all twenty five districts of Sri Lanka,” said the ministry statement.
“This magnanimous gesture is yet another demonstration of the warm friendship and close relations between Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia,” it added.
Central Province Council Member Azath Zalley has earlier written a letter to Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Johnston Fernando pointing out that the stock of dates was meant for distribution among the needy Muslims during Ramadan.
He also alleged that the ministers who received their portions are now trying to sell those dates at the local market.


TheFace: Deena Al-Faris, founder of Qamrah fashion brand

Deena Al-Faris (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 58 min 25 sec ago
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TheFace: Deena Al-Faris, founder of Qamrah fashion brand

  • My story began with a loving and inspirational entrepreneur father who believed in me, and nourished my ambitions through the provision of education and unique experiences

Being a co-founder of the first Saudi caviar farm was not enough. I launched my Qamrah fashion brand to reach out to women and help them rise up with self-confidence.

My story began with a loving and inspirational entrepreneur father who believed in me, and nourished my ambitions through the provision of education and unique experiences.

Like most ambitious women, I wanted to be everything at the same time. I studied business and went on to earn a master’s degree in international law, majoring in women’s rights. I am now married to a supportive, loving husband and blessed with two sons.

At a young age, I co-founded the Al-Faris sturgeon fish farm and Caviar Court factory. I proved that women can break the glass ceiling in a male-dominated field, and earned a chief executive position during a time when that was not as acceptable as it is now.

One of the most significant challenges I faced was to cross the trading borders and export Saudi caviar to Russia. Overcoming international bureaucracies and coming up with a persuasive strategy is a unique experience that I shall never forget. It has certainly put us on the map.

A few years ago, I realized I needed to move out of my comfort zone and do more with my true passion, focusing on elevating the aspirations and executive presence of women. So, I created a platform and fashion brand through Qamrah World to empower women to find their purpose and pursue their dreams.

I remind myself and all women to own our aspirations, believe in our power to live up to our potential with confidence, and enjoy the purposeful world. We are ready to embrace ambition.