Labor pact with Sri Lanka safeguards rights of both parties, says new CG

Sri Lankan Consul General Faizer Mackeen presents his commission of appointment in Jeddah to Ambassador Muhammad Ahmad Tayeb, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the western province, on Tuesday.
Updated 15 October 2016
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Labor pact with Sri Lanka safeguards rights of both parties, says new CG

RIYADH: Recruitment of labor from Sri Lanka enjoys a smooth sail following the recent agreement between the Kingdom and the island, Sri Lanka's Consul General Faizer Mackeen said in Jeddah on Thursday.
The consul general was speaking to Arab News soon after presenting his commission of appointment to Ambassador Muhammad Ahmad Tayeb, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the western province, on the assumption of his duties in Jeddah.
Jamal Balkhoyoor, deputy director general and chief of protocol of the Ministry Foreign Affairs (Makkah branch), was also present at the presentation ceremony.
Speaking to Arab News, he said that the two countries have already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the protection of domestic workers from the island nation in the Kingdom.
“It was an important agreement which protects both the employer and the employee. He also said that the agreement would pave the way for more workers coming into the Kingdom since it provides them adequate security.
The labor agreement for domestic workers recruitment was a joint effort by Riyadh and Colombo to create a unified and well-regulated system for recruitment with emphasis on monitoring the working conditions of workers. It covers 12 categories of domestic workers including housemaids, drivers, cleaners and waiters employed by individuals.
The agreement included provisions that stipulate that contracts should be in a language that is understood by the worker and that the worker must be informed of what to do and whom to turn to in case of an emergency.
The worker also must be made aware of the facilities available to him or her in the country of destination, especially when it comes to health and personal safety and the employer must agree to terminate the service contract after a maximum of two years if the employee wishes to leave his or her place of employment. In addition, the employee has the right to retain all his or her travel documents at all times.
Referring to the conversation he had with Ahmad Tayeb, he said it was a cordial discussion related to trade, tourism and migration.
“We exchanged views on the recruitment industry of Sri Lanka and tourism including tea and investment in Sri Lanka, while recalling the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka dating back to centuries including the signing of the agreement enhancing trade relations of both countries, which culminated in the establishment of the first embassy of Sri Lanka in Jeddah in 1981 to strengthen bilateral relations.”
The consul general said that he extended an invitation to the Saudi Foreign Ministry officials to visit Sri Lanka and stressed that Sri Lanka has become the largest tourist destination for Saudi nationals in addition to trading and manpower in the recent years.
Sri Lanka has planned to achieve a target of $ 3.5 billion as revenues from tourism and another $ 8 billion from employment industry.
Saudi Arabia is one of the largest countries providing employment opportunities to Sri Lankan migrants. Further, he said, SriLankan Airlines has established daily flights from Colombo to Jeddah except on Friday and approximately 50,000 Umrah pilgrims visit Saudi Arabia for their religious observation in addition to the limited quota allocated for Haj pilgrims.


Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 19 April 2018
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Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!

Decoder

What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.