Sri Lanka envoy unveils welfare plan for island’s expat workers

Updated 05 February 2016
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Sri Lanka envoy unveils welfare plan for island’s expat workers

RIYADH: Sri Lankan Ambassador Azim Thassim told his countrymen in the Kingdom that his mission has chalked out a 20/20 plan to promote bilateral relations with the Kingdom and to work for the welfare of the island’s 500,000 workers in Saudi Arabia.
The envoy was addressing the Sri Lankan community on the occasion of his country’s 68th anniversary of its Independence Day on Thursday.
A large gathering of the Lankan community, including schoolchildren and Saudi businessmen, graced the colorful ceremony organized by the mission.
Around one-third of the Sri Lankan population of 1.5 million overseas workers are concentrated in the Kingdom.
Expatriates from all walks of life were present at the morning function to meet and greet one another on this auspicious occasion.
Thassim, who also re-launched the mission’s website with new features, said the website will give an insight into the activities of the mission. “It provides a portal to learn about the facilities and services rendered by the mission for the welfare of workers.”
The envoy called upon his community members to build up the various projects earmarked during the next five years.
“We need professional help in social, cultural, economic and educational fields from our countrymen in the Kingdom,” he said, stressing that the expatriate community can help the country as well as the host country in their march toward national development.
He also announced that in addition to the two community schools in Riyadh and Jeddah, the mission has received a license to operate another school in Dammam. “Arrangements are being made to open this school during the new academic year,” he added.
To begin the day’s event, the ambassador unfurled the national flag amidst the beat of drums (Magul bera). Then community members joined the choir of the Sri Lankan International School in Riyadh to sing the national anthem. It was followed by the recital of Jayamangala Gatha and observance of two-minutes silence in memory of fallen heroes. “This was done as a mark of respect to all those, who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the nation,” the envoy said.
Speaking further, the ambassador noted that the new government under the leadership of President Maithripala Sirisena, supported by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, is working hand-in-hand to create a new political culture, economic system and communal harmony in the country.
“Good governance (Yahapalanaya) is the motto of the present government. Following the end of the war, we had massive development drives and projects. Around half a decade later, now the country is led toward the marvelous goals of good governance and social justice where significant paradigm shifts in social, economic and political arenas are at their dawn,” he concluded.
In Jeddah, acting Consul General M.S.M. Ansar, hoisted the national flag at the consulate. More than 100 expatriates in the western province were present at the morning function to meet and greet fellow Sri Lankans.
Typical Sri Lankan dishes were served to guests at both the functions held in Riyadh and Jeddah. They included kiribath with katta sambol, kevum, dodal and kokis.


Saudi women mark National Day behind the steering wheel

Saudi women are celebrating the National Day behind the steering wheel. (Supplied)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Saudi women mark National Day behind the steering wheel

  • Under King Salman and his crown prince, women have been able to obtain their rights and become ambassadors to all the countries of the world

MAKKAH/RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s celebration of its 88th National Day comes at a time when the Kingdom is achieving remarkable progress economically and socially, most notably lifting the ban on women driving.
This is the first National Day in which Saudi women can drive their cars. Writer Heba Qazi said it is a beautiful feeling, and Saudi women can now participate in celebrations and exercise their legitimate right nationwide.
The 88th National Day is a great opportunity to remember past glories and recognize the great sacrifices of those who have held high the banner of Saudi women’s rights, she added.
Under King Salman and his crown prince, women have been able to obtain their rights and become ambassadors to all the countries of the world, she said.
The king and crown prince are “consolidating the stature of this nation and granting women all their rights, including driving cars,” added Qazi
“We take pride in this great day and this important privilege, celebrating National Day for the first time from behind the driving wheel,” she said.
“We also take pride in the nation’s achievements at all levels, and we are endeavoring to highlight the status of women in all fields.”
Psychologist and sociologist Hasna Al-Tallahi said the Kingdom has established itself as the strongest nation in the region by promoting its political and economic position, winning the respect of the entire world and respecting women’s status.
“It also managed to hinder the efforts of many parties to diminish the role of women in all fields,” she added.
“When women obtained some of their rights, most importantly driving, they felt free. They were responsible for their time and family, and were not at the mercy of drivers and society.”
King Salman supports the rights of the most vulnerable worldwide, and the rights of Saudi women by listening to their demands, Al-Tallahi said, expressing great pride in her nation, its leadership and people.
“Challenges are always present and so are their solutions,” she added. “With each new challenge, solutions are created … to achieve women’s progress, growth and advancement.”’
Mesbah Abdulhakim, a supervisor at a hotel in Makkah, said the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan gives a great deal of attention to women’s issues.
“Lifting the driving ban imposed on women paved the way for many job opportunities in various sectors, not only in health and education,” she added.
Journalist Amira Qatabri said: “Lifting the driving ban on women led to a division between the conservative movement, which controls many aspects of social life in the Kingdom, and a more understanding and open elite.”
Women being able to drive is not just symbolic, but part of what may be the largest transformation in Saudi society in half a century, she added.
Hind Khalid Al-Zahid, the first female Saudi executive director — for the Dammam Airport Co. — and head of the Businesswomen’s Center at the Eastern Province’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “This is a very important year in the Kingdom’s history.”
She said: “It establishes a foundation for equal rights and opportunities for men and women, giving women an opportunity to be part of what is happening in the Kingdom regarding national transformation, in line with Vision 2030.”
Saudi actor and presenter Khairiah Abu Laban said: “I am really short for words, and do not know how to thank our leadership for this beautiful feeling.”