Colombo downplays monks’ allegations of maid abuse

Updated 18 October 2014
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Colombo downplays monks’ allegations of maid abuse

The Sri Lankan government brushed aside allegations made by a group of Buddhist monks in Colombo on Thursday on the abuse of housemaids in the Kingdom.
Strong allegations against the abuse of Sri Lankan housemaids by Saudi sponsors were made by a group of 20 Buddhist monks of Ravana Balaya led by its General Secretary Iththakande Saddhatissa Thera when it visited the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) of Koswatta at Battaramulla in Colombo on Thursday.
The Ravana Balaya monks requested the SLBFE chairman to take immediate action to bring back the expatriates who have become victims at the hands of their Middle East employers.
The group that arrived at the bureau at 10 in the morning and barged into the office of the SLBFE Chairman Amal Senadhilankara without a prior appointment.
Dispelling the allegations, SLBFE Chairman Amal Senadhilankara told the monks that such allegations could only be handled with adequate evidence. However, he told the intruders that such meetings should be arranged with prior appointment so that he could prepare himself with the team of his officials who handle overseas recruitment.
Speaking to Arab News from Colombo, Senadhilankara said that it is a pity that there are vested interests in the island that want to politicize the foreign employment business of the country. “Our vision and mission is to treat all of our overseas workers equally without any discrimination on the score of religion,” he stressed.
He said there are no major problems of domestic workers in the Kingdom or elsewhere in the Middle East region. “These people want cheap publicity claiming that they are saviors of these housemaids,” he said, adding that there are sporadic problems which are solved through negotiations between the employer and the employees. “Unresolved cases are repatriated at the expense of the SLBFE.”
He said the Kingdom and Sri Lanka are keen on streamlining the domestic aides’ recruitment scheme to protect the interests of the employee and their Saudi employer.
He said that following the recent approval of the Saudi-Lanka labor agreement by the Shoura Council, its implementation will come into effect soon.


Pitbull and Akon wow crowds at Saudi Arabia’s Asharqiah Music Festival

Updated 19 min ago
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Pitbull and Akon wow crowds at Saudi Arabia’s Asharqiah Music Festival

  • Earlier on Friday, planes raced over the waters of the Dammam Corniche, thrilling the crowd who had gathered to see the Red Bull Race
  • Although not the actual championship itself, the demonstration did not disappoint, with pilots pulling their aircraft through barrel rolls and high G-force turns along a floating obstacle course

DAMMAM: Week two of Sharqiah Season started with a bang as US rapper Pitbull performed at Dammam’s Life Park as part of the Asharqiah Music Festival on Friday afternoon.
Although his Thursday night concert was canceled, fans were certainly not disappointed when he took the stage at 4 p.m. An energy-filled Pitbull hyped-up the crowd in minutes, and soon enough everyone was singing along to some of his most famous songs, including “Taxi,” “Timber,” “On The Floor” and more.
The rapper even teased a short sample of his newest song, “Cinco de Mayo,” leading the crowd in the opening chant before launching into the song’s intro.
He thanked his fans multiple times for their understanding over the delay of the concert, telling them how happy he was to have made it.
“I want you to be able to tell people, ‘I went to a Pitbull concert, and I had the time of my life, Saudi Arabia!’” he shouted, before launching into a rendition of “Time of Our Lives.”


Fireworks, confetti and a wildly enthusiastic audience made for a memorable experience.
Arab News caught up with Pitbull backstage after the show. When asked if he had something to say to his fans, he replied: “To everyone in Saudi I wanna say thank you for the love, I appreciate the opportunity. Great crowd, great energy.”
The performance was hastily rescheduled due to the rapper’s delay in Iceland on his way to Saudi Arabia for the festival.
Due to technical difficulties, his plane was grounded and unable to fly until a spare part was delivered from the US, causing him to miss the initial date.
Pitbull posted an apology video on Twitter, in which he promised fans an unforgettable experience at the rescheduled show. “Make sure you keep your tickets,” he told his fans.
Safa Hukrdoh, from Dammam, said she would have preferred to experience the concert at night, but had no complaints. “I think it was amazing. I have been to other concerts outside (of Saudi Arabia), but this is the first time inside.”
The festivities at Life Park continue today as Akon, French Montana and Amr Diab all take the stage for the second evening of the Asharqiah Music Festival.

It is one of 83 events planned for the Sharqiah Season, the first of 11 Saudi Seasons taking place across the country in 2019.
Earlier on Friday, planes raced over the waters of the Dammam Corniche, thrilling the crowd who had gathered to see the Red Bull Race. Although not the actual championship itself, the demonstration did not disappoint, with pilots pulling their aircraft through barrel rolls and high G-force turns along a floating obstacle course.
“It’s been a nice day for the family,” said Mohammed Saleh Al-Ghamdi, who had come out with his wife, his mother-in-law and his three children. “We come here every weekend, and every weekend there is a new surprise waiting.
“This time it is these air races, which my son, Hussam, found really exciting. We all had our photos taken with the planes and ate hamburgers, and now we are going to have some ice cream before the next plane comes out to perform.”
Sharqiah Season is the first of 11 cultural events organized by the General Entertainment Authority, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, The General Sports Authority and General Culture Authority.
The initiative falls in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 program, which aims to improve the quality of life in the Kingdom by providing enriching cultural pursuits and shows. The 83 activities planned for the festival, which is being held in 9 different cities, feature entertainment, educational activities, sports events and culture.
Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with the weekends ahead also featuring the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Deadmau5 among others.