Saudi envoy vows to take relations with Sri Lanka to ‘new heights’

Saudi ambassador in Colombo, Abdul Nasser Al-Harthy, during a courtesy call to the newly-elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Colombo. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 27 November 2019

Saudi envoy vows to take relations with Sri Lanka to ‘new heights’

  • Al-Harthy says that the Kingdom and Sri Lanka would work to develop commercial relations through new investment opportunities

COLOMBO: Saudi Arabia’s envoy to Sri Lanka on Tuesday vowed to take relations with Colombo to “new heights” after meeting with the South Asian country’s new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Speaking to Arab News a day after congratulating Rajapaksa on his recent election to power with a thumping 1.3-million-vote majority, the Kingdom’s ambassador Abdul Nasser Al-Harthy said there would be concentrated efforts to boost bilateral ties between the two countries.

In a Twitter post following the meeting, Rajapaksa said he had been “pleased” to meet with Al-Harthy during his courtesy visit on Monday.

The envoy said that during their brief but “successful” talks, he and Rajapaksa “touched upon several areas of mutual interests between the two countries. We hope to take bilateral relations to new heights.”

Al-Harthy added that the Kingdom and Sri Lanka would work to develop commercial relations through new investment opportunities. He noted that both countries had economic projects on the go that could be attractive to investors.

The envoy pointed out that the two nations had enjoyed friendly bilateral relations for decades, with Sri Lankan missions in Riyadh and Jeddah, and he thanked the president for pledging to look after all citizens equally without discrimination.

BACKGROUND

Cooperation between the government of Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia was initiated in 1981 through a $30 million SFD loan for a second water sector and sewerage project. By the end of 2018, the fund had loaned a total amount of $386 million to Sri Lanka, mainly toward road, health, irrigation and community development, and higher education schemes.

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) had recently provided a concessional loan of SR187.5 million ($50 million) to establish a medical faculty at Sabaragamuwa University, said Al-Harthy, with the balance of $20.46 million being met by the Sri Lankan government.

Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia was initiated in 1981 through a $30 million SFD loan for a second water sector and sewerage project. 

By the end of 2018, the fund had loaned a total amount of $386 million to Sri Lanka, mainly toward road, health, irrigation and community development, and higher education schemes.

In addition, around 150,000 Sri Lankans work in Saudi Arabia, generating large sums of foreign exchange for their nation’s coffers.

Sri Lanka set up its embassy in Jeddah in 1981 with Dickman De Alwis serving as its first charge d’affaires. 

In 1993, the Saudi government reciprocated with a mission in Colombo, appointing Abdullah Al-Zahrani as its charge d’affaires. The Sri Lankan Embassy relocated to Riyadh in 1985.


Saudi justice minister appoints first woman to senior position at alimony fund

Saudi Justice Ministry. (SPA)
Updated 29 January 2020

Saudi justice minister appoints first woman to senior position at alimony fund

  • More women are also working in the ministry’s digital transformation project, and in related fields such as computer science, software engineering and information systems

JEDDAH: The minister of justice and president of the Supreme Judicial Council, Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani, has ordered the appointment of Shorooq bint Mohammed Al-Jadaan as deputy director-general for alimony affairs. She is the first woman to assume a leading position at the alimony fund.
The fund aims to ensure alimony is paid to beneficiaries as quickly as possible, and help achieve a financial balance for families, in fulfillment of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan.
“This appointment is not surprising from a ministry and a country that has taken upon itself to ensure equity and empowerment for women in all governmental and private sectors,” said Saudi lawyer Nujood Qasim.
Such decisions strongly support efforts to raise the level of participation by women in the workforce, one of the goals of Vision 2030, by providing a wider range of career options and encouraging them to play a bigger role in the development of the country, Qasim added.
The second phase of the alimony fund was launched in November 2019. It has achieved a number of successes since its inception, in particular improving the speed of responses to requests and communication with applicants and beneficiaries through its online platform.
It has also reduced the time taken from final approval of applications to the payment of alimony, which can now be done in a matter of hours.
The Ministry of Justice has implemented a number of initiatives in the past few years to increase the number of female employees and improve their representation in promoted positions. In late 2017, it started to provide special sections for women in courts around the country and appoint female notaries. Previously it was rare for women to work in courts.
Women can now work as social researchers and administrative assistants. More women are also working in the ministry’s digital transformation project, and in related fields such as computer science, software engineering and information systems.
In addition, there has been a huge increase in the number of registered female lawyers, from only 10 in 2013 to 487 by November last year.