Sri Lanka recovering well thanks to support of friends

Pakeer Mohiideen Amza

It gives me immense pleasure to extend my sincere congratulations and warm felicitations to all my countrymen and women domiciled in Saudi Arabia on the happy occasion of the 75th National Day of Sri Lanka. Seventy-five years is a small fraction for a country with 2,500 years of recorded and proud history.
We have had ups and downs, like any other country. We have had challenges and opportunities, like many others. We faced calamities, both natural and man-made. But despite all these challenges, we remained resilient. The tsunami devastation of 2004 and the 26 years of armed conflict were the challenges that we successfully faced in our contemporary history. The current economic challenges that we are undergoing are also compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine crisis, which have had an impact on the global economy. It is heartening to see that Sri Lanka is now on the path to recovery, due to the strong support of our friends and partners in the international arena, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In spite of all the above, we have excelled in our social indicators, parallel to the developed world, thanks to our heavy investments in education and health. Sri Lanka-Saudi Arabia relations date back several centuries. Sri Lanka was a pivotal point on the historic silk route, which was used extensively by Arab traders. In ancient times, Arabs called Sri Lanka “Serendip,” which was later added to the English vocabulary as serendipity.
The relations between Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka are based on common values, mutual respect, noninterference and respect for sovereignty. Both countries support each other in international forums. The Sri Lankan leadership has, on numerous occasions, expressed its admiration for Vision 2030, a well-thought-out strategy that takes into consideration the Kingdom’s strengths and capabilities, as well as the impressive progress toward realizing the vision’s objectives that has been made so far under the able leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Sri Lankan leaders have also articulated their impression of the massive giga-development projects embarked on in the Kingdom in the recent past as part of Vision 2030. In this context, Sri Lanka is pleased to reiterate its support of Saudi Arabia’s bid to host Expo 2030, which goes in parallel with Vision 2030.
The past year has been a productive one for Sri Lanka-Saudi Arabia relations. In March 2022, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan visited Sri Lanka. This was the first bilateral foreign ministerial visit from the Kingdom to Sri Lanka since we established diplomatic relations in 1974. Following this visit, we had four ministerial visits from Sri Lanka to the Kingdom in the space of 10 months. Last week, we concluded a successful visit to Saudi Arabia by Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry. Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia inked an Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and initiated deliberations to conclude several other agreements during the visit. This visit has no doubt infused positive vibes into our relations.
Our leadership in Sri Lanka also values the messages of felicitations from King Salman and the crown prince on the occasion of our National Day. I humbly submit that our leaders and people greatly value the messages of friendship and felicitations. Long live Sri Lanka-Saudi Arabia relations.