Posted on October 13th, 2011

By Sarath Wijesinghe, Ambassador for Sri Lanka in the United Arab Emirates

The meeting of the two Ministers are unique, unprecedented and significant in the present context of economic and political affairs or in the Globe. When the entire Middle East is in turmoil United Arab Emirates – the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Jewel of Middle EastƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ is shining with stability , security and economic upward trend due to the enormous oil wealth which is well and wisely invested. Both countries have been close for thousands of years and the personal bonds are strong.

UAE has become the hub of Middle East which is the platform for Middle East and Africa. It has become a tourist and a service station. The Port and the Airport in Dubai are one of the busiest and the other ports and the airports right round the country are equally busy and income generators. Today the UAE is a modern and dynamic nation with over 82.7% of its population living in Urban areas. Abu Dhabi has largest oil reservoirs. Dubai is a shining example of what a non-oil economy can achieve. Incidentally the main income of Dubai is tourism and service sector. DP World is one of the largest income generating ports in the world. UAE is an investor friendly regime. It has 32 Free Trade Zones being used by investors worldwide and on the contrary UAE too has invested worldwide. Knowledge Village is a classic example of how the education is given priority. Knowledge Village has outlets of most of the education institutions in the world which brings a sizeable income to the nation and also uses to improve the quality of knowledge as local and the expatriates consist of 80% of the population.

UAE has invested substantially in Sri Lanka. UAE-Sri Lanka relationships run back to thousands of years. Currently many investors are eying and planning to invest in Sri Lanka in various fields. Etisalat , Flour Milling are few among very many. On the contrary Sri Lanka uses UAE as a sister partner in business. UAE embraces modern technology fast for their economic development.

Tourism is thriving in UAE. We have lot to learn from UAE and exchange knowledge and experiences. The UAE has nearly 300,000 Sri Lankan expatriates who are well placed. They serve the country of origin and the host country making foreign employment as the main income earner for the nation.

His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka is due to visit UAE somewhere in January 2012. No Sri Lankan leader has visited UAE since the visit of Madam Bandaranaike during the Non-Aligned Summit. Therefore His ExcellencyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s visit is long overdue. More over it will help strengthen relations between the two countries.

Tourism from UAE and the Middle East is increasing day by day. This should be one of the areas we should try to strengthen.

Many investors prefer Sri Lanka due to stability and peace. Due to closeness they are aware of the environment, infrastructure and the advantage of the country. The diplomats as well as the expatriates always speak of the beauty, environment, friendship and warmth of the people thereby promoting tourism as one of the main earners.

Employment Generation and Promotion is given priority by the Sri Lankan Embassy because this country needs expatriates for development for their management.

There are few agreements that are being prepared to be executed during His ExcellencyƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s intended visit next year.


We are active in International Renewable Energy and the Sri Lankan Mission is closely associated and interacting with the Institution.

UAE is the platform for Tea Trade. Tea is being distributed to Middle East and Africa from UAE. Unfortunately the unrest in the Middle East has hampered the Tea Trade and we hope things will come to normal soon.

The meeting of His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foreign Minister of UAE and Hon. (Prof.) G.L.Peiris, Minister of External Affairs in the UAE is indeed historic. It strengthened the close ties between two nations and the two regions running back to thousands of years.

The two Foreign Ministers discussed at length various areas on international relations, economy, world affairs, bilateral and multilateral relations, investment, tourism and many other areas which is beneficial to both UAE and Sri Lanka in particular and SAARC and Middle East in general. This is the first visit of a Foreign Minister after His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed duties as the President of Sri Lanka. His Highness visited Sri Lanka in 2009 and remembers the pleasant memories, the beauty of the nation, cordiality and the warmth of the people of Sri Lanka. He indicated the willingness to visit Sri Lanka again.

The scheduled visit of H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa in due course was greeted by His Highness with pleasure. Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka reiterated His Excellency Mahinda RajapaksaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s long term connections with Palestine and the support for their cause to be a member of the World Body.

Hon. (Prof.) Peiris reiterated that the first mission established in the Middle East is Abu Dhabi and currently over 300,000 Sri Lankans serve both countries, i.e. the host country and the country of origin serving both nations for the developments in UAE and remittances to the motherland. He briefed the contemporary developments in Sri Lanka in all the areas that Sri Lanka is a stable and a secure nation where the economy, tourism and business are booming targeting to be the Wonder of Asia. Prof. Peiris who was in the UAE as a State Guest and proceeded to Kuwait to meet the counterpart and the Prime Minister from where he will proceed to France in his voyage of maintaining closer ties and relationships with the rest of the world assisting the country in the rapid development process.

The UAE and Sri Lanka are going to be close and genuine partners in the process of Sri Lanka becoming the Wonder of Asia and UAE consolidating the position of the Jewel of the Middle East day by day.

Writer is the Sri Lankan Ambassador in the United Arab Emirates


  1. Dr Telli C Rajaratnam Says:

    Your Excellency, Your work is highly commendable.

    I would humbly request Your Excellency to arrange a familiarization course for the Parliamentarians including all Ministers on code of conduct in the UAE, humility in the UAE and proper administration and loyalty in the Ministries in the UAE. I am sure Your Excellency can convince Our Excellency the President to control and discipline the Police Force and also to reduce the carnival of escorts he has granted to MP’s and Ministers and not a day passes without violation of every conceivable law by these persons.

    Likewise, I wouls appreciate if Your Excellency can give Your colleagues unlike you who are warming there seats and partying without an iota of patriotism to promote the country.

    We have heard a lot about Your Excellency’s good work and I hope it will be appreciated by the Government which is being snared at by the majority of people. Winning elections wont suffice, they must be taught humility and the norms of Dhammapada.

    I too Your Excellency defend the Government but there comes a time when we are checkmated for the stupid mistakes of the arrogant Politicians.

    Even as far as the Petrol fraud was concerned, the Minister concerned failed to observe protocol to inform your Excellency to check the credibility. So whatever links you create with SL and UAE take a closer look because the reputation of our politicians isquestionable. Thery will then get together and put the innocent into trouble. Of course we all know what happens next. So I am glad that we are promoting Sri Lanka which is good but at the same time inform H.E. to get rid of the Frauds and Murderers who are all busy otherwise.

    I too have sent a Memo to H.E. to reshuffle his cabinet and make it smaller and not accomodate undesirables. People dont buy fairy tales and bed time stories anymore.

    Soon after the War the Tamils could have been got round if Former Terrorists too were eradicated without being pampered.

    I remember talking to Your Excellency by Phone. I do hope Your Excellency will inform those concerned that the Lord Buddha has said “Nothing is permanent”. I wish you all success and I hope Your Excellency’s good work will be appreciated. Gratitude is something that is absent in the administration.

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