Sri Lanka woos Saudi investors

Thursday, 19 May 2011 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A visiting Sri Lankan cabinet minister on Tuesday urged Saudi businessmen to invest in upcoming projects in the island state, that would yield attractive gains.

Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, who met Riyadh Government Prince Salman in Riyadh on Tuesday, told Arab News that the end of the ethnic conflict had paved the way for several business opportunities in the country.

He added that the promising areas of investment included tourism, garments industry, cultivation of fruits and vegetables, and gem and jewellery.

The minister said that there was a remarkable growth in the number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka after peace was restored following the country’s victory over terror. Data from the tourist promotion office showed that Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rose 43.5 percent in March 2011 to 75,130, with steep increases seen from South Asia and several European markets. March arrivals were the highest for a single month since December 2010, when 84,000 visitors came to the island. Last year, Sri Lanka’s tourist arrivals rose 46 percent to 654,476 after the end of the 30-year war. “We also can cultivate agricultural crops for Saudi Arabia,” Bathiudeen said, adding that items manufactured in Sri Lanka could find a ready market in all SAARC countries under the existing Free Trade Agreement. Bathiudeen, who also held talks with Water and Electricity Minister Abdullah Al-Hussayen, said that his government was interested in exchanging experiences with the Kingdom in desalination and water management programmes.

The minister will also call on his counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Abdullah Zainal Alireza during his Jeddah visit on Thursday.

He is also slated to meet senior officials of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the Islamic Development Bank during his stay in the Western Province. (