Sri Lanka celebrates 74th Independence Day today
MUSCAT – Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) that are being finalised between Oman and Sri Lanka in the tourism as well as agriculture sectors will also facilitate to enhance cooperation and collaboration between the two countries in these two important sectors of common interest, according to Omar Lebbe Ameer Ajwad, Sri Lankan ambassador to Oman.
Of mutual benefit
“Sri Lanka and Oman are popular tourist destinations. It would be mutually beneficial for both countries to seek cooperation in this area through regular interaction between the inbound and outbound tour operations, facilitated by the government authorities,” the ambassador opined.
Utilise strategic geographical locations
“As the two countries sharing the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka and Oman could complement each other in trade and investment by utilising their strategic geographical locations and making use of the new opportunities that are unfolding under the new visions of the wise leaderships of the two countries.
Catalysts for enhancement of trade and investments
“In this regard, vital agreements such as the agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion, which was signed between the two countries in 2018 and the proposed agreement on promotion and reciprocal protection on investments, which is being currently negotiated between the two countries, will serve as catalysts for the enhancement of bilateral trade and investment between the two countries.
Sri Lanka’s 74th Independence Day
Omar Lebbe Ameer Ajwad mentioned this in his message on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day of Sri Lanka. Extending his greetings to the Sri Lankan community in Oman, the ambassador said: “Independence Day is an important day to all Sri Lankan citizens. Our leaders of all communities in Sri Lanka fought hard to gain this independence with unity. Sri Lanka has embarked on an ambitious socio-economic development plan and strategy with a drastic policy reforms aiming at regaining her past glory in the Indian Ocean. The vision of the Sri Lankan government is to transform the country into the hub of the Indian Ocean, with a knowledge-based, highly competitive, social-market economy.”
Bound by historical relations
Sri Lanka and Oman are bound by long-standing historical relations underpinned by a vibrant tradition of people-to-people contacts and mutual respect. Both countries commemorated the 40thanniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations on February 17, 2021, by organising a special event at Oman’s foreign ministry, the ambassador said.
“A memorial logo on this significant occasion was also jointly issued by both countries. Foreign ministers of the two countries exchanged congratulatory messages to mark this milestone in the history of bilateral relations by demonstrating their commitment to further consolidate the relations between the two friendly countries with renewed visions and vigour.”
Initiatives in key areas
Despite COVID-19 pandemic challenges, a series of activities were organised during the said commemorative year. A number of initiatives in key areas of mutual interest including direct maritime connectivity were taken whereby laying a strong foundation for the future cooperation between the two countries with a view to achieving another milestone in the bilateral relations in the years ahead, O. L. Ameer Ajwad said.
Bilateral agreement on the mutual visa exemption for diplomats, officials, service people and other special passport holders of both countries was signed in order to facilitate smooth exchange of bilateral visits between the two countries. This arrangement will ease and invigorate the exchange of bilateral political, diplomatic, economic, defense and other official level visits and engagements between the two countries. An MoU between the two national chambers of commerce of Sri Lanka and Oman, namely National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) and the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) was virtually signed with a view to enhancing interactions between the private sector business communities in both countries. A virtual business forum with the participation of key government ministries and agencies of both countries as well as private sector B2B sessions were also organised with the participation of around 100 private companies from both countries.
High-level bilateral visits
High-level bilateral visits from Sri Lanka to Oman were also organised, including a visit by Ajith Nivard Cabral, then state minister and special representative of the Sri Lankan prime minister together with a 10-member private sector delegation carrying a special message addressed to His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik. The special representative had an audience with His Highness Sayyid Asa’ad bin Tariq Al Said, deputy prime minister for international relations and cooperation affairs and personal representative of His Majesty the Sultan.
Namal Rajapaksa, minister of sports and youth affairs of Sri Lanka visited Oman in October 2021 as a special guest on the invitation extended by His Highness Sayyid Theyazin bin Haitham bin Tarik Al Said, the crown prince and the minister of culture, sports and youth affairs of Oman, to attend the inauguration of T20 Cricket World Cup Tournament hosted for the first time by Oman and he had bilateral meetings with the crown prince and other government officials. Tharaka Balasuriya, minister of regional cooperation of Sri Lanka visited Oman in December 2021 to attend the first-ever bilateral hockey tournament between the two countries, organised by the Sri Lankan embassy in Oman jointly with the Oman Hockey Association, to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
A series of virtual webinar meetings were organised between different private sector companies of both countries in the areas of food and beverages, fruits and vegetables, boatbuilding, Ceylon tea and ICT and BPM with a view to promoting bilateral trade between the two countries. A series of visits by potential investors from both countries were also organised under the “investment bubble’ concept due to pandemic restrictions, to explore investment opportunities by Omani investors in Sri Lanka as well by Sri Lankan investors in Omani Freezone.
New chapter in sports cooperation
The commemorative year opened a new chapter in the sports’ cooperation between Sri Lanka and Oman. The first-ever international cricket friendly matches were played by the national cricket teams of Sri Lanka and Oman under the T20 World Cup tournament hosted by Oman in 2021 and the first-ever friendly hockey tournament between the hockey clubs of the two countries was held in December 2021 to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
“I am confident that the solid foundation that has been laid during the commemorative year of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the growing momentum in the bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Oman will continue to flourish in the years ahead.
“I take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the members of the Sri Lankan community living in Oman for their unwavering cooperation extended to the embassy during the challenging times due to the outbreak of COVID – 19 pandemic by demonstrating their great sense of social responsibility in the host country and for their generous solidarity with the home country. I cordially invite all the members of the Sri Lanka community in the Sultanate to join hands with us to further elevate the relations that happily exist between Sri Lanka and Oman for centuries into new heights encompassing all areas of mutual interest,” the ambassador said.
Best wishes to His Majesty, the Sultan
“I also take this opportunity to extend, on behalf of the government and the people of Sri Lanka, best wishes for the good health, happiness and personal well-being of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik and for the continued progress and prosperity of the people of the Sultanate of Oman.
“On this special occasion of 74th Independence Day of Sri Lanka, I wish to extend my sincere appreciation and gratitude to His Majesty, the government and the people of Oman for their goodwill and support extended, over the decades, to the Sri Lankan embassy in Muscat as well as to the Sri Lankan community living in the Sultanate for their well being and peaceful stay in this blessed country,” Ameer Ajwad said.
Oman and Sri Lanka set to achieve new levels of enhanced cooperation in tourism and agriculture: Sri Lankan ambassador
Sri Lanka celebrates 74th Independence Day today