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Plans to strengthen Kuwait-Sri Lanka economic ties

KUWAIT: Strengthening economic cooperation in keeping with Mahinda Chintana will be the top priority of the new Sri Lankan Ambassador in Kuwait.

S. A. C. M. Zuhyle who assumed duties as Sri Lankan envoy in the state of Kuwait told the Daily News here that he had already started work in establishing a closer economic cooperation between the two countries.

"Such cooperation will benefit both countries and the island could attract substantial investments from the oil rich country to fund several upcoming projects in Sri Lanka," Ambassador Zuhyle said.

He added that he has appointed three Business Promotion Officers to promote Sri Lankan trade in the emirate.

"These Sri Lankan officers who are proficient in the local language will visit various commercial establishments to fulfill their assignments to establish new contacts," he noted, adding that they will also try to procure employment opportunities for Sri Lankan youths.

Zuhyle who had come here, six weeks ago, said that he had already started working on projecting Sri Lanka as a tourist destination in this part of the Gulf. "A lot of Arabs go to Bangkok, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Why not Sri Lanka?", he asked, pointing out that he was able to send a team of travel agents to Colombo on a familiarisation tour so that they could effectively sell Sri Lanka at their counters. The tour has been arranged by SriLankan Airlines in cooperation with his embassy.

"These agents will tour the island for seven days and see for themselves what Sri Lanka could offer Kuwaiti tourists." The group also comprise two local journalists who would write feature articles on Sri Lanka on their return to Kuwait, he noted.

Kuwait has a Sri Lankan population of 100,000 workers and most of them are domestic aides. The envoy said that the recruitment of housemaids to the emirate could be streamlined through proper orientation programmes.

He said the housemaids who are sent to Kuwait should have a basic knowledge of Arabic and English and they should also be aware of the local cultural environment of the country.

Furthermore, he added that they should be physically fit to serve in this part of world which has a climate alien to their country.

Zuhyle said that he had already intimated these ideas to the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment which he hoped would take effective measures to remedy the existing problems.

Zuhyle attributed most of the labour problems to misunderstandings between the sponsor and the housemaid.

"Most of the problems were solved amicably through negotiations between the two parties," he said, claiming that he was able to bring the number of housemaids detained in the mission's safehouse from 400 to 65.

"We understand the difficulties of the maids who come here in search of greener pastures, but we cannot be oblivious to the difficulties of the Kuwait sponsors who spend large sums of Kuwaiti Dinars to recruit maidservants from the island," he stressed.

The envoy pointed out that there is a plenty of employment opportunities in supermarkets, hotels and factories in Kuwait. He said that he is working out a plan to request these establishments to recruit Sri Lankan youths who pass out from the various technical training institutes in Sri Lanka.

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