Sri Lanka seeks to strengthen ties with Kingdom

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador Azmi Thassim confers with Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar in this file photo. (AN photo)
Updated 03 February 2017
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Sri Lanka seeks to strengthen ties with Kingdom

RIYADH: Sri Lanka looks forward to further strengthening ties with the Kingdom, especially in the fields of employment, trade, investment and tourism, the island’s Ambassador Azmi Thassim told Arab News on the eve of his country’s Independence and National Day on Saturday.
“Appreciating the long-standing relationship with Saudi Arabia, our country wholeheartedly supports Vision 2030 under the wise leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the NTP (National Transformation Program) 2020 initiated by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister,” Thassim said.
The envoy, who met with Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar recently, expressed hope for the enhancement of bilateral ties.
“Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, trade and tourism have tremendously increased for the benefit of the people of the two friendly countries,” Thassim said, adding that nearly 38,000 Saudis visited Sri Lanka last year.
The diplomat said his country is an ideal tourist destination for a family holiday: “We have plenty of attractions to offer Saudi tourists, and we are making every effort to attract tourists from this part of the world.”
He added that Saudi families who had visited Sri Lanka had always opted to repeat their visits because of the island’s natural scenic beauty and the hospitality of its people.
“Muslim visitors will feel at home in the city of Colombo since they can see mosques in the vicinity of every shopping center,” he said, adding that women in hijab are a common sight in the capital. “A good number of Saudis are currently visiting Sri Lanka for their leisure and honeymoon.”
Thassim said: “Our target is to promote trade and investment with the Kingdom.” Sri Lankan exports to Saudi Arabia include tea, garments, fruit and vegetables, cut flowers, leather goods and porcelain products.
“Ever since we established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom in July 1974, the two countries have maintained excellent relations in social, cultural, political and economic fields,” the ambassador said.
He added that the relationship with Saudi Arabia is significant not only because it is home to nearly 200,000 Sri Lankans, but also because it is a holy land for the Muslims who form 10 percent of the island’s population of 24 million.
A large number of Sri Lankan Muslims regularly travel to the Kingdom for the annual Haj and Umrah pilgrimage.
Thassim thanked the Saudi leadership for the “special care given to Muslims from all parts of the world, including Sri Lanka.”
He also thanked Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and interior minister, and Prince Mohammed for their kind cooperation in maintaining relations with friendly countries such as Sri Lanka.


Pilgrimage planning for Hajj season unveiled

Updated 17 July 2018
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Pilgrimage planning for Hajj season unveiled

  • Chief of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais said the presidency was keen to prepare early for the season this year
  • Al-Sudais said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomes pilgrims from all countries of the world and from different sects

JEDDAH: The Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques started implementing its plan for the pilgrimage season this year, which lasts for two months from the beginning of the current Dhul Qadah month until the end of Dhu Al-Hijjah.

Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, chief of the Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques, said the presidency was keen to prepare early for the season this year.

Al-Sudais said that the presidential plan seeks to achieve a number of goals, including helping pilgrims perform their rituals with ease and tranquility and preparing all facilities.

He highlighted the availability of important services, including seminars by a number of high-ranking scholars and teachers, distribution of the Holy Qur’an and religious pamphlets, translation of Friday sermons into 10 languages and arranging visits to the Prophet’s Mosque.

A total of 210 doors in the Grand Mosque and 100 doors in the Prophet’s Mosques have been prepared as well as 28 escalators in the Grand Mosque and four escalators in Prophet’s Mosque. There are 38 doors for people with special needs and seven for women. There are seven bridges and a special entrance for funerals. There are also 25,000 Zamzam water containers in the Grand Mosque and 23,000 in the Prophet’s Mosque.

It also translates speeches into sign language for the deaf and provides services for those with special needs, such as golf carts to transport elderly pilgrims, and regulating the entry and exit of worshipers.

He said that the number of people circulating Kaaba in all the floors of the Grand Mosque has reached 107,000 an hour.

Air conditioning has been installed in the basement and ground floor and many other areas have finished. Thousands of fans have been installed in the Two Holy Mosques and their yards.

The area around the Two Holy Mosques has been equipped with more than 8,441 toilets, as well as more than 6,000 ablution units.

A number of different TV and radio programs and films have been made highlighting the efforts made by Saudi Arabia in the service of the two Holy Mosques and the holy sites and services provided to the guests of the House of God.

Al-Sudais said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomes pilgrims from all countries of the world and from different sects. He stressed that the Kingdom is keen to provide the best services for all pilgrims in order to help them perform their rituals in comfort, ease and security.