DUBAI – Sri Lanka is introducing unconventional products to its export basket, according to the country’s new Consul General in Dubai.
M. M. Abdul Raheem said that Sri Lanka would be showcasing its expertise in boat making with its first-ever participation in the Dubai International Boat Show being held from 1- 5 March, 2011, at the Dubai International Marine Club, Mina Seyahi.
“We have a strong boat building industry and we must introduce it to the world,” Abdul Raheem told members of the Sri Lanka Business Council at a reception hosted on Thursday to celebrate the 63rd Independence Day of their country and to welcome him as took charge in Dubai only some three weeks ago.
“We, the consulate and business community, will work together to promote our unconventional items alongside our conventional products, like tea. In addition, we will also join hands for the growth of investment and tourism,” he said.
Abdul Raheem said that 20 companies from Sri Lanka are also taking part in the Gulfood 2011 exhibition and conference taking place in Dubai from 27 February to 2 March. A delegation from Sri Lanka would also visit Dubai during the event, he said.
He said that the total trade volume between the two countries stood at $550 million, of which exports from Sri Lanka, mainly tea, were $220 million. “We can increase our tea exports, improve our export basket and build the private sector in both countries,” he said.
Farook Qasim, Chairman of Sri Lanka Business Council, said that the council has redone its constitution. The seven office bearers are now members of the board of directors with three ex-officio members. The term of office is extended from one to two years.
The reception was attended by Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UAE, Sarath Wijesinghe.
The Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UAE, Sarath Wijesinghe, told Khaleej Times that an important element of the foreign policy of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to develop a new rapport with the Middle East and Gulf countries.
He said that in line with the president’s new vision, the country’s missions abroad have been told to break the traditional shell in working for the development of the country.
The envoy said that his priority would be to develop close relations between the peoples and the leaders of the two nations and to promote the sectors of tourism, investment, education and employment generation.
He said that 60 percent of the 250,000 Sri Lankans in the UAE were domestic helpers and his priority is to gradually bring down their number and to replace them with educated skilled workers who have good knowledge of Arabic and English languages.
“Our country is thankful to the domestic helpers who have done enough to support their country’s economy,” Wijesinghe said. “Sri Lanka is not a poor country any more. Domestic helpers have good job opportunities in their home country. We need them there,” he added.
He said that the Sri Lankan government planned to teach Arabic and English to the young educated workers before sending them to the Middle East for employment.
“The knowledge of these languages would serve as an advantage for these workers,” Wijesinghe said, adding that the UAE was ready to help teach Arabic to Sri Lankan workers in their country.