COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is looking for Saudi investment to modernize its tourism and other sectors, top officials in Colombo have said following an official visit of Saudi Economy and Planning Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim.
Al-Ibrahim was in the Sri Lankan capital on Monday, where he met President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Foreign Minister Ali Sabry to discuss ways to strengthen economic ties.
“President Ranil Wickremesinghe … further highlighted that the tourism and agriculture sectors were areas open to greater investment, as the country is committed to modernizing these domains,” the presidential secretariat said in a statement.
Tourism and agriculture are key industries for Sri Lanka, accounting for about 12 percent and 7 percent of its 2019 GDP respectively. The country has been working to revive its crisis-hit economy following a severe financial crisis that drove the country to bankruptcy last year.
Al-Ibrahim said that he was honored to meet Wickremesinghe.
“We discussed both countries’ ambitions and transformation journeys as well as strengthening our bilateral economic ties and trade and investment growth opportunities,” Al-Ibrahim wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
During Al-Ibrahim’s meeting with Sabry, the two officials discussed Saudi investment, as well as manpower and tourism cooperation, the foreign minister said.
“We also discussed (ways) to improve the tourism traffic between the two countries and further strengthen people-to-people contact. We also discussed the possibility of Saudia Airlines commencing direct flights to Colombo,” Sabry told Arab News.
“We decided to explore possibilities of Saudi investment in Sri Lanka and opportunities for the Sri Lankans for further skilled employment opportunities in Saudi Arabia in its planned construction boom,” he said, alluding to the Kingdom’s various megaprojects under Vision 2030.
“All in all, we had a very productive discussion and agreed to have a clear plan to continue our cooperation.”
Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka have expanded ties in the past year. They agreed to broaden their political consultation following their first joint committee meeting in May and earlier this year launched a new employment scheme aimed at boosting Colombo’s manpower exports to the Kingdom.