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New Sri Lankan envoy vows to take ties with KSA to greater heights

Sri Lanka’s new Consul General Faizer Mackeen.
RIYADH: The incoming consul general of Sri Lanka has pledged to take the Saudi Arabia-Sri Lanka relations to greater heights and is upbeat about taking charge at a time when the Haj season is around the corner.
Faizer Mackeen performed the umrah with his family as soon as he arrived in the Kingdom on Sunday, before taking over office in Jeddah the following day.
Mackeen succeeds former diplomat Adam Bawa Uthumalebbe, who left the Kingdom a year ago on completion of his tenure .
Speaking to Arab News, the diplomat said he considers it a great opportunity to serve his motherland from the holy land.
Mackeen said his main mission is to lift the image of his country in the Kingdom and explore new areas of cooperation in trade and investment.
“I have come at the right time when the Haj season is about to begin. This year, a quota of 2,240 pilgrims has been allowed from Colombo. We have made a special request to Saudi Arabia to increase the Haj quota,” he said.
There are some 97 Haj operators in the country, he said, pointing out that some 60,000 Umrah pilgrims come here through a network of 140 Umrah operators.
The diplomat also highlighted that Sri Lanka is fast becoming a tourist destination for tourists from the Middle East, with the highest number from the Kingdom.
He said that a good number of Lankan Muslims are currently studying in various universities in the Kingdom, which has been providing soft loans as and when required by the country.
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in Jeddah offers scholarships to outstanding students to pursue higher studies in engineering, medicine, dentistry, agriculture and ITC in the universities in Sri Lanka.
Addressing his staff members at the consulate, Mackeen called for their cooperation to carry out his tasks successfully. He told them that as public servants, each one of them is duty bound to serve their countrymen working in the western province.

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