COLOMBO : “ The relationship between the two countries is based on the principle of mutual respect and cooperation in various fields, as evidenced by the recent exchange of official visits by the two friendly countries that had a good impact on strengthening the bilateral relations between them,” said Saudi Arabia’s new ambassador Khalid Hamoud Al-Kahtani on Wednesday, Nov,30
The envoy had made a statement, which was made available to the Colombo Times on Wednesday.
Dwelling on the recent bilateral visits, the envoy said the most important of which are the visit of HH Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of Sri Lanka on 14/03/2022, and his meetings with the President, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. From the Sri Lankan side, the visit of Hon. Tharaka Balasuriya, State Minister of Regional Cooperation on 19/03/2022, visit of Hon. Naseer Ahamed, Minister of Environment on 28/08/2022 and the visit of Hon. Manusha Nanayakkara, Minister of Labor and Foreign Employment to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 08-12/11/2022.
The Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established at the end of the last century since the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka established its Embassy in the Kingdom in 1984 and the Consulate General in Jeddah in 1997, while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia established its Embassy in the Republic of Sri Lanka in 1995. The Saudi-Sri Lankan bilateral relations, which extend back decades, were established on cooperation and friendship under the leaderships of the two countries.
“ As the ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of Sri Lanka, I will strive to develop relations between the two friendly countries in all fields,” the ambassador noted
Saudi Arabia is one of the most important trading partners of Sri Lanka in the Gulf region. The total volume of the trade exchange between the two countries in 2019 amounted to approximately 1689 million riyals. Among the most important commodities that the Kingdom exports to Sri Lanka are mineral products, plastics, tanning materials, paints, cardboard and Aluminum. Likewise, Sri Lanka exports a number of its products to the Kingdom, the most important of which are coffee, tea, spices, Spices, seasonings, ready-made clothes, fruits and fish.
In addition, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is considered as a center for the largest Sri Lankan labor force in the Middle East, where the number of Sri Lankan workers in the Kingdom reached more than 180,000 workers. There was an agreement signed between the two countries with regard to domestic workers recruitment from Sri Lanka in 2014, with a view to protect the interests of contractual parties, and regulate the recruitment of Sri Lankan workers to the Kingdom. It is foreseen that this number will increase in the forthcoming years in light of the mega projects that are currently being implemented in the Kingdom under Vision 2030, which will have a significant impact on helping the treasury of the Republic of Sri Lanka through the financial transfers made by its workers in the Kingdom.
In this regard, the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided multiple assistances to implement development projects in Sri Lanka as well as humanitarian & relief aid, including emergency relief during the tsunami disaster in 2004. The housing project of King Abdullah City was implemented in the “Norachcholai” area for those affected by the tsunami disaster. In addition to food aid provided by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Center. The Saudi Fund for Development provided nearly US$ 455 million to finance 46 projects; the most important of which are as follow:
Amount (Saudi Riyal) Date Name of the Project No.
99.9 Million 08/01/1981 Colombo Water Supply and Sewerage in Colombo city 1.
48.13 Million 08/01/1981 Electric Power Transmission 2.
85 Million 03/01/1983 Mahaweli Ganga Downstream Development System “B” Left Bank 3.
45 Million 25/07/2002 Health Facilities Development in Colombo city 4.
40 Million 26/08/2004 Batticaloa – Tricomalee Road Development 5.
11 Million 26/03/2008 Development of Health Facilities in Colombo city (Additional Loan) 6.
75 Million 26/03/2008 Epilepsy Hospital and Health Center 7.
172.5 Million 15/09/2010 Kalu Ganga Development 8.
225 Million 2012 Road Network Development 9.
225 Million 2015 Improvement of Peradeniya – Badulla – Chenkaladi Road 10.
45 Million 30/10/2015 Epilepsy Hospital and Health Center(Additional Loan) 11.
168.75 Million 24/10/2017
Development of Left Bank of Kalu Ganga 12.
105 Million 2017 Development of Wayamba Township 13.
60 Million 2018 Development of Kalu Ganga (Additional Loan) 14.
187.50 Million 2019 Construction of the Medical Faculty at Sabragamuwa University 15.
Total amount of these projects: 1592.78 Million Saudi Riyals Equivalent of 455 Million US Dollar
In addition, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has implemented 11 projects, including shelter, food and non-food items, support and coordination of humanitarian operations and charity works, at a cost of US$13,823,819 from 2005 to September 30, 2022, as follows:
No Project Sector No. of Projects Cost (US$)
1 Camp coordination 1 11,267,400
2 Food security 7 1,896,469
3 Humanitarian and Emergency Relief Coordination 2 650,000
4 Charitable Assistance 1 9,950
Total 11 13,823,819
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has several outstanding natural components that make it a first-class tourist country, because of its natural coasts and islands that are distinguished by the splendor and purity of its waters, and its picturesque coral reefs, as well as archaeological sites registered in UNESCO, new cities, archaeological surveys, and public parks. The Kingdom has also recently been distinguished by beach and recreational tourism, festivals and exhibitions tourism, archaeological tourism, shopping and museums, as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has become a future tourist destination for international travelers. The Sri Lankan tourists can obtain visas through the Kingdom’s mission in Colombo by accessing the link https://visa.mofa.gov.sa, also, those Sri Lankans who are holding visit visas of United Kingdom, United States, or the European union countries (Schengen), can obtain electronic visas, provided that the visa was used at least once and bears the entry stamp from the issuing country. As well as the Sri Lankans who hold permanent residency in the United States of America, United Kingdom and European countries, can obtain electronic visas or on their arrival to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They can apply through the website: https://visa.visitsaudi.com to obtain visas. The average number of visas issued by the Embassy in Colombo to Sri Lankan nationals over the last years for various purposes reached approximately 55,000 visas.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka is characterized by an ancient historical civilization, and is famous for its production of spices especially cinnamon, precious stones and jewels of global value for thousands of years. Geographically, Sri Lanka is the link between the East and the West, with the so-called Silk Road. Sri Lanka is characterized by many tourist attractions, the most important of which are its extended beaches and places dedicated to various sports, adventures, festivals and wildlife practice. The Saudi travelers obtain entry visas to Sri Lanka upon their arrival at the airport, and they can also obtain electronic visas. The average number of Saudi tourists in recent years has reached nearly 32,000 Saudi tourists.
Under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and with the determination of the visionary His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, the Kingdom has developed a strategic vision for the future known as the vision 2030, through which the Kingdom seeks to invest its strengths, from a distinguished strategic location, a leading investment force, and Arabic and Islamic depth, where the leadership pays all attention to this, and harnesses all capabilities to achieve ambitions. The Kingdom has been keen since its establishment to carry out its duties with all What serves Islam and Muslims, and work to implement projects that guarantee facilitation and safety in the Grand Mosque, Masjid Nabawi and the holy sites. The average number of Sri Lankan Umrah pilgrims before the Corona pandemic reached 32,000, while the average number of Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims reached 2600.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the economies that foresee the future, with its untapped opportunities and unique investment opportunities. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has distinct potentials and opportunities for investors, as it is characterized by its abundance of natural resources, and its strategic location, which holds a strategic position in the heart of the main trade routes between the 3 continents. Within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030, many economic reforms have succeeded in creating new business opportunities, raising the main strategic assets of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, advancing economic growth and diversifying it. I invite Sri Lankan investors to invest in the Kingdom, where there are promising investment opportunities in several areas, which will enable them to own their investment projects with 100% without the need for a local partner; they can view these opportunities through the website of the Ministry of Investment in the Kingdom: https://misa.gov.sa