COLOMBO: Omar Kamil, the former mayor of Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo, has been appointed as his country’s next ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
He succeeds Azmi Thassim, who left the Kingdom earlier this month.
Kamil told Arab News on Thursday that he is happy with his new post in the Kingdom, which he described as “so near and dear to the hearts of Muslims in all parts of the world.”
He said that, besides promoting bilateral relations, he would focus on trade and investment opportunities between the two countries. “There are several untapped resources in the two countries that can be exploited for (mutual) benefit,” he said.
The new ambassador observed that the Kingdom is home to more than 150,000 Sri Lankan migrant workers and that it receives more than 50,000 Umrah and Hajj pilgrims from Sri Lanka each year.
He added that Saudi Arabia has supported Sri Lanka “during good and bad times” and that the Kingdom has provided financial aid for infrastructure projects related to transport, health and education.
Kamil comes from a well-known family of businessmen and is an alumnus of Royal College Colombo — sometimes referred to as “the Eton of Sri Lanka.”
Prior to taking office as Colombo mayor, Kamil served on the Colombo Municipal Council for more than 20 years. In 2005, he became Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Iran — a post he held for two years. He is the president of the Moors Islamic Cultural Home, a leading Islamic cultural organization. He is also a member of the board of directors of Maradana Jumma Mosque and Zahira College in Colombo.
He was appointed to serve in Riyadh on the recommendation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and endorsed by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.