Lankan envoy meets Bahraini ministers of industry and commerce, labour
The Ambassador of Sri Lanka to the Kingdom of Bahrain, Dr. A. Saj U. Mendis, met Bahraini’s Labour and Social Development Minister Jameel bin Mohammed Ali Humaidan and Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani at their respective ministries, to discuss the most efficacious and result-oriented courses of action and strategies to aggrandise and expand the economic, commercial, touristic and trade relations between the two countries as well as the creation of employment for Sri Lankan nationals in Bahrain.
These two respective ministers are considered amongst the most senior and pivotal and seminal since they play a critical role in the economic and commercial advancement of the country. Ambassador Dr. Mendis met both these ministers last week.
Both the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister and Ambassador highlighted the fact that the two countries are yet to exploit and are yet to seize the strategic vantage of the vast economic commercial, touristic, investment, outsourcing and industrial opportunities and vistas including but not limited to natural endowments and human resources.
Both the Minister and Ambassador agreed that the bilateral trade and commercial activity are still in the vicinity of $ 30 million and foreign direct investments and foreign institutional investments from Bahrain to Sri Lanka and vice versa are minimal.
Both the Minster and Ambassador were convinced of the utility and potential to enhance and augment commercial and economic relations with greater and more results-oriented cooperation, collaboration, engagement, facilitation and partnership, which would benefit both countries.
In this context, Ambassador Dr. Mendis stated that tourism in Sri Lanka this year would reach nearly three million given the vast touristic attractions as well as natural endowments in the country. The Ambassador also substantiated that Sri Lanka had been listed as one of the most sought-after touristic destinations in the world by highly noted and globally reputed magazines including ‘Lonely Planet’ and other journals and electronic media.
The highly esteemed ‘Lonely Planet’ chose Sri Lanka as the most desired touristic destination in 2019, surpassing Germany, Zimbabwe and Switzerland, he added.
Minister Alzayani added that his country too was eager to proactively engage Sri Lanka on its economic, investment and commercial trajectory, thus benefiting both countries.
Minister Alzayani, being a leading corporate captain of a number of companies turned Senior Cabinet Minister of the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain, added that the two countries had maintained amiable relations not just for decades but for centuries, which would enable the corporate captains, industrialists, entrepreneurs and investors of the two countries to honestly exchange ideas and propositions and seriously consider committing investments, joint ventures and projects in both countries.
Ambassador Mendis emphasised the fact that the current Government was tenaciously focused on enhancement and expansion of economic and commercial diplomacy. Ambassador Mendis further expressed sincere appreciation and gratitude, on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka, for the opportunities and facilities extended by the Government of Bahrain in securing a large number of employment opportunities to nationals of Sri Lanka, particularly semi-skilled, skilled, highly-skilled and professional Sri Lankans.
During the meeting with the Minister of Labor and Social Development, the Ambassador accentuated the fact that the Government of Bahrain had extended a highly favourable environment and milieu for Sri Lankans to live and work in, peacefully and comfortably, in Bahrain, thus mutually benefiting both countries.
Both the Minister and Ambassador agreed that both countries were rapidly developing island states and working closely and constructively with each other would progress and advance the economy of Sri Lanka as well as facilitate the economy of Bahrain to become one of the more developed nations in the region as well as in the world.
The Minister and the Ambassador were of firm conviction that gainful employment opportunities in the semi-skilled, skilled and highly-skilled categories for Sri Lankan nationals in Bahrain would inherently benefit both countries. The Ambassador stated that the remittances from migrant and expatriate Sri Lankans who are employed outside of Sri Lanka were a significant and momentous source of income and foreign exchange for the country.
He also added that the financial contribution of the migrant and expatriate Sri Lankans was nearly 9% of the GDP of the country which is almost equivalent to the total remittances and earnings of garments, tourism, tea and gems and jewellery respectively.
The Minister also stated that most of the corporates, employers and companies prefer to recruit Sri Lankan nationals since they were highly competent, committed, adaptable and honest.
On a separate note, Ambassador Dr. Mendis congratulated both the Ministers for Bahrain being elected to the 47-Member Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva for the 2019-2021 term. The Ambassador also added that Bahrain, when it was a member of the HRC in 2006-2007 and 2009-2011, supported Sri Lanka at the HRC during one of the most testing and trying periods in its history.
The ambassador broached both the ministers of the forthcoming ‘Sri Lankan Produce and Food Mart’ scheduled to be held from 28 November-1 December 2018 in close coordination with Lulus Hypermarket, one of the largest retail supermarkets in the entire region of the Middle East, South Asia and South East Asia.
The two paramount objectives of the event are to enhance and boost exports from Sri Lanka to Bahrain and tourism from Bahrain to Sri Lanka as well as to showcase, project and profile the image of the country, amongst others.
The Ambassador stated that a number of Sri Lankan goods, produce and products would be on display as well as on sale at the Lulus Hypermarket and the celebrated Sri Lankan Chef Dr. Publis Silva would be demonstrating the preparation and cooking of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine using spices, herbs and condiments, which are indigenous to Sri Lanka.
Further, highly renowned dance troupe Channa-Upuli, which had performed in over 40 countries, would be performing at the event, thus enthralling guests and visitors. The Ambassador extended invitations to both the ministers to grace the occasion as chief guests and added that a couple of senior ambassadors and other dignitaries would also be making brief remarks and addresses at the opening ceremony of the event, which would be attended by over 100 select guests, including ambassadors, senior bureaucrats and technocrats, corporate leaders and captains, leading tour operators and travel agents, major importers of goods and services from South Asia as well as from Sri Lanka and the media, among others.
Both ministers were convinced and assured that this scheduled event would mutually benefit both tourism and trade, amongst other things, and would further elevate bilateral relations in all spheres and provinces, between the two countries, thus benefiting both countries, particularly economically and commercially by extending and facilitating result-oriented, constructive and focused bilateral trade, economic activity, two-way tourism and employment opportunities to qualified and skilled nationals of Sri Lanka in Bahrain.