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Embassy in Bahrain boosts ‘made in Sri Lanka’ produce and food

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The opening ceremony of ‘Sri Lanka Produce & Food Mart’ with the Chief Guest, Guests of Honour, Directors of Lulu International, corporate leaders and captains of industry, ambassadors and diplomatic corps and media, among others 

Celebrity Chef Dr. Publis Silva explaining Sri Lankan cuisine to the Chief Guest and other select dignitaries and invitees including a number of ambassadors, senior most bureaucrats of ministries and corporate leaders in Bahrain

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Kingdom of Bahrain, in close coordination and cooperation with Lulu Hypermarket, conducted and showcased a four-day mega scale event last week titled ‘Sri Lankan Produce & Food Mart’.

The event was held with the objectives of promoting and profiling of goods and services, products and produces and tourism and culture of Sri Lanka as well as to enhance and aggrandise the image of the country, primarily amongst the nationals of Bahrain, foreign expatriates and other nationalities such as nationals of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

The paramount objectives of this event were to promote exports of goods, produce and products from Sri Lanka to Bahrain and tourism from Bahrain to Sri Lanka. The four-day event was attended by over 6,000 visitors and shoppers including nationals of Sri Lanka domiciled in Bahrain. 

At the opening ceremony of ‘Sri Lankan Produce & Food Mart,’ Senior Minister/Statesmen and former Minister of Electricity and Water and Bin Juma Holding Company Chairman Abdulla Mohamed Juma attended the occasion as the Chief Guest and a large number of invitees and guests including corporate leaders and captains of industry, importers of goods and services from Sri Lanka and South Asia, secretaries (undersecretary)  and additional secretaries of ministries including Foreign Office, personal representatives of ministers of industry, commerce and tourism and labour and social development, ambassadors and diplomatic corps and media, among others, attended the ceremony. 

The opening remarks and addresses were made by Lulu International Senior Regional Director Juzer Rupawala, and Ambassador of Sri Lanka Dr. A. Saj U. Mendis. 

Dr. Mendis accentuated the economic, trade, commercial and touristic utility of the country and urged the select invitees to purchase the newly-introduced products and produce of Sri Lanka and to visit Sri Lanka as the country was chosen by Lonely Planet less than a couple of months ago as the most desired touristic destination in year 2019. 

The Chief Guest and Ambassadors of India, the UK, Germany and Philippines too made positive and encouraging remarks at the event, in general, and their respective visits and vacations in Sri Lanka, in particular. 

Lulu International, which operates Lulu Hypermarkets in the region of Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe, South Asia and East Asia, has over 160 outlets and Hypermarkets in a number of countries and is one of the fastest growing department stores in the world. 

On the weekends, approximately 300,000 to 400,000 Saudi nationals visit Bahrain and, quite often, they visit Lulus Hypermarkets for purposes of shopping and for buying goods and products. The aforementioned event was held at Lulu Hypermarket in Juffair, which is, by far the most visited and busiest in Bahrain, coinciding with the weekend. 

The Economic Affairs Division of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo and the Embassy of Sri Lanka in the Kingdom of Bahrain coordinated and negotiated with the respective local partners of Lulu International in Sri Lanka as well as with the Corporate Head Office of Lulu International in Abu-Dhabi, UAE to import, display and market goods and products, which are not being already imported by Lulu Hypermarket of Lulu International, thus endeavouring to introduce and present new range of goods and products from Sri Lanka to Bahrain and to the region of GCC, in particular. 

In this context, Lulu International in close collaboration with the Embassy had a number of new products and goods displayed and marketed during the event and presumably, would continue to import and market those products at all Lulu Hypermarkets in Bahrain. 

Some of the new products imported and introduced were jaggery, cinnamon, sea food including tuna and prawns, pepper, handlooms and batik from Laksala, authentic Sri Lankan handicraft, virgin coconut oil, various kinds of biscuits, confectionary products such as Alli noodles, Sri Lankan instant food products and new brands of tea such as Devon, among others. Almost all these products and produce were sold during the four-day event. 

The celebrity Chef from Hotel Mount Lavinia of Sri Lanka, Dr. Publis Silva, and his team were flown in from Sri Lanka to demonstrate the preparation of authentic Sri Lankan cuisine by using indigenous spices, herbs and condiments. The invitees, guests, visitors and shoppers were enthralled and captivated of the culinary prowess and dexterity of Chef Dr. Publis Silva as well as been the longest-serving chef of any five-star hotel in the world. 

Chef Dr. Silva prepared authentic Sri Lankan dishes and cuisine and served, small quantities of his food, to invitees, visitors and shoppers to taste them. Many of the foreign expatriates and nationals of Bahrain were highly impressed about the Sri Lankan cuisine and an equal number of them expressed their desire to visit Sri Lanka on their next vacation. 

On the fourth day of the event, Chef Dr. Silva conducted a cookery competition, in which, the contestants were to prepare and to serve ‘Fish Ambulthiyal,’ a dish which is inherent and intrinsic to Sri Lankan culinary cuisine. Chef Dr. Silva was the exclusive judge of the competition and he tasted each and every dish of ‘Fish Ambulthiyal’ and assigned marks for their presentation, taste, novelty and creativity, among others.

Over 25 contestants participated including a number of foreign nationals and non-Sri Lankans. The first three were given valuable gift vouchers and, surprisingly, the second prize was won by an Indian national. Further, Chef Dr. Silva shared his expert culinary knowledge of Sri Lankan cuisine, spanning over six decades, with invitees, shoppers and visitors during the event, which they were most grateful and appreciative. 

Another feature of the event was the performance of a six-member Channa-Upuli Dance Troupe. The Channa-Upuli dance troupe performed on particular times on all four days and the audience, visitors and shoppers were delighted and thrilled to witness their iconic and idyllic dances and performances. Many of the visitors and shoppers also took time off not only to watch their dances but also to dance on the floor. 

Many of the visitors and shoppers who witnessed the outfits and attire of Channa-Upuli dance troupe eagerly purchased handlooms and batiks from Laksala, which were specifically imported from Sri Lanka to be introduced to Lulu Hypermarket in Bahrain. Large television screens were installed at the event and they were presenting touristic attractions and attributes of Sri Lanka. 

Since tourism was one of the two key objectives to be promoted, SriLankan Airlines and leading travel and tour agents also had stalls and pavilions, at the event, along with tourism promotional material, brochures and leaflets of Sri Lanka. 

The ‘Sri Lankan Produce & Food Mart’ was conducted and orchestrated under the auspices of the Economic Diplomacy Program (EDP) of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka in order to promote and to enhance exports and tourism as well as other economic, investment and commercial activity, thus accruing tangible and concrete economic utility to the country. 

It is of firm conviction of both the top management of Lulu International and of Ambassador Dr. Saj Mendis that this initiative would visibly promote tourism from Bahrain to Sri Lanka as well as a number of new products and produce of Sri Lanka would be able to penetrate the market not only in Bahrain but in the entire region of Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Further, a significant quantum of the aforementioned event was sponsored by Sri Lankan well-wishers and corporates based in the Kingdom of Bahrain. 

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