Sri Lanka pledges cooperation in implementing Saudi Vision 2030

Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishaal bin Majid meets with Sri Lankan Consul General Faizer Mackeen in Jeddah.
Updated 13 January 2017
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Sri Lanka pledges cooperation in implementing Saudi Vision 2030

RIYADH: Sri Lanka pledged its cooperation for the successful implementation of Saudi Vision 2030 during a meeting between Jeddah Gov. Prince Mishal bin Majid and the island’s Consul General in Jeddah Faizer Mackeen recently.
Commending on the progressive measures spelled out in Vision 2030 during his meeting with the prince, the diplomat said that his country would lend full cooperation to Saudi Arabia, which hosts millions of expatriates.
He said Vision 2030 is a comprehensive program that aims to turn the Kingdom into a knowledge-based country, which would eventually diversify its economic programs without solely depending on oil.
Following the end of the ethnic problems on the island, the envoy said a large number of tourists from Saudi Arabia have been traveling to Sri Lanka as tourists.
He added that Saudi families who had visited Sri Lanka had always opted to repeat the visit because of the island’s scenic beauty and the hospitality of its people. “Muslim visitors will feel at home in the city of Colombo since they could see mosques in the vicinity of every shopping center,” he said. In fact, he said, women in hijab are a common sight in the city. “A good number of Saudis current visiting Sri Lanka for leisure and honeymoon.”
The island has more than 18,000 quality rooms and it is studded with quality hotels such as Shangrila, Movenpick, Cinnamon Grand, Cinnamon Lake, Taj Exotica, Light House, and Heritance Hotels, Kingsbury and Galadari for the comfort of luxury tourists.
Sri Lanka is home to eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, several Buddhist and Hindu temples, and other ancient monuments that serve as attractions for travelers. Adam’s Peak, a mountain in the Central Province with the shape of a footprint on its peak, is considered sacred to a number of religions. The eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka include the central highlands area comprising Hortons Plains National Park and Knuckles Conservation Forest, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve, the Dutch Fort in Galle, the Golden Temple of Dambulla, the Temple of Tooth in Kandy and the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, and Sigiriya.
“Ever since we established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom in July 1974, the two countries have been maintaining excellent relations in social, cultural, political and economic fields,” Mackeen said. He added that the relationship with Saudi Arabia is significant not only because it is home to nearly 250,000 Sri Lankans but also is holy land for Muslims who form 7 percent of the country’s 24 million population. A large number of Sri Lankan Muslims regularly come for the annual Haj, and Umrah throughout the year.
“We are thankful to the leadership of King Salman for the special care given to the Muslims from all parts of the world including Sri Lanka.”


Grandma Stories: Saudi storyteller teaches values and critical thinking by letting children speak up

Updated 22 April 2018
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Grandma Stories: Saudi storyteller teaches values and critical thinking by letting children speak up

DHAHRAN: You can see children forming a gigantic circle and listening carefully when story time starts. Ghadeer Yamani, the founder of Grandma Stories, found her passion for spreading the love of reading among children and delivering values through her storytelling sessions.
The Grandma Stories initiative started six years ago when Yamani returned home after spending years abroad owing to her husband’s work. Yamani has read stories in both Arabic and English for more than 6,000 children of 15 nationalities all over the Kingdom and the Gulf region, including the UAE and Bahrain.
“The idea of Grandma Stories was not an epiphany; it came to me after I saw how reading was a huge part of children’s life abroad. I used to see children reading in libraries, in bus stops, in hospitals — everywhere. I wanted to help spread reading culture in my society.
“I wanted children back home to love reading! And with the support of my husband and family, I think I was able to do this,” Yamani told Arab News.
With the prevalence of national reading competitions, school contests and reading clubs, awareness among families and society members is growing. “The interaction and excitement of families and children are amazing when it comes to story time,” said Yamani.
About the title of her initiative, she said: “When I was a child I used to visit my father’s grandmother in Madinah who had a phenomenal way of telling stories and riddles. I still remember how the entire family would get around her as she started telling her tales, and in an atmosphere filled with love and contentment.
“No one ever wanted her stories to finish and nothing could ever distract us while listening to her. That is exactly how I want children to feel in Grandma Stories story time.”
Storytelling is not only a fun way to ignite imaginations; it also improves children’s verbal and critical thinking abilities. Yamani allows children to criticize the stories by pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each one. The advancement in such skills is what inspires Yamani and keeps her going.
“The fondest moments throughout my years in storytelling have been when mothers come and tell me how their children used to be shy and reluctant but have started to become fluent and can express themselves well, and that Grandma Stories is the reason for this great progress.”