Lankans voted ‘against racism and corruption’

Updated 19 August 2015
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Lankans voted ‘against racism and corruption’

RIYADH: The Sri Lankan parliamentary elections result on Tuesday has been a vote against racism, corruption and nepotism, according to the country’s expatriates in the Kingdom. The final results showed that the United National Party (UNP) led by Ranil Wickremesinghe secured 106 seats in the parliament, while former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, head of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) obtained only 95 seats including the bonus allocations.
Rajapaksa’s allegedly corrupt regime had been overthrown in January by Maithripala Sirisena. “The election results have clearly shown that Sri Lankans are not prepared to entertain racism or nepotism in the country,” Hameed Mowlana, senior executive of a private establishment, told Arab News on Tuesday.
“If any party thinks that it can garner votes playing the racism card it will end in dismal failure. The current result is ample proof of this,” Mowlana said, pointing out that the majority Sinhalese community used the elections to reject parties trying to divide communities.
Ayesh Medis from Arab National Bank said that the people voted collectively to fight against corruption, which was rampant during Rajapaksa’s tenure. Medis said that the combination of Wickremesinghe and Sirisena would help boost socio-economic development.
Senior banker Riaz Usoof said the results signal the dawn of a new era. “All Sri Lankans hope that the joint efforts of Ranil and President Sirisena will ensure stability and growth on the island.”
P. Ali, a senior accountant at a steel facility, said the election results have created a sound opposition in the legislature. “Democracy can be successful only if there is a strong opposition which could form a shadow cabinet to check the activities of the ruling party,” he added.
“The openness and positive manner in which the election was conducted, without any violence and turmoil as in previous years, is most commendable. The outcome is certainly a breath of fresh air for all forward-thinking Sri Lankans who want to see the beautiful island nation blossom into the ‘Taste of Paradise’ it has always been referred to,” said Fazli Sameer, an information technology specialist, who has been in the Kingdom for more than two decades.
Speaking to Arab News from Colombo, Hajara Hameed told Arab News that Muslims felt insecure during the previous regime due to constant agitation by racists. “There is an air of freedom for Muslim women to move freely in the streets of Sri Lanka,” she added.
Wickremesinghe urged the people to work together for the betterment of Sri Lanka and introduce a new political culture in the country.


Saudi ministry: More than 3 million Umrah visas issued so far

The Vision 2030 reform plan aims to attract more than 30 million Umrah pilgrims, and provide them with excellent services and an outstanding experience. (SPA)
Updated 20 January 2019
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Saudi ministry: More than 3 million Umrah visas issued so far

  • Developing Hajj and Umrah organizations and services in the Kingdom is among the top priorities of the Saudi government

JEDDAH: The number of Umrah visas issued this year has reached 3,024,272, of which 2,561,541 pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom, according to data provided by the Hajj and Umrah Ministry.
There are 399,479 pilgrims still in the Kingdom, with 277,372 in Makkah and 122,107 in Madinah.
Most pilgrims — 2,288,789 — came to the Kingdom by air, while 257,266 entered by land and 15,486 arrived by sea.
The largest number of pilgrims are from Pakistan (681,392) followed by Indonesia (447,450), India (306,470), Yemen (146,067), Malaysia (142,290), Algeria (92,752), Turkey (86,925), Egypt (85,438), Bangladesh (53,131) and the UAE (62,927).
The weekly data also included the number of Saudi staff within Umrah companies and institutions. They are 9,983 Saudis including 8,259 males and 1,724 females.
Developing Hajj and Umrah organizations and services in the Kingdom is among the top priorities of the Saudi government.
The Vision 2030 reform plan aims to attract more than 30 million Umrah pilgrims, and provide them with excellent services and an outstanding experience.