Saudi-Lanka talks focus on investment, tourism
Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin and Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the Kingdom, Mohammed Hussein Mohamed, held a meeting in Jeddah on Monday to promote investment and tourism between the Kingdom and the island nation.
Mohamed told Arab News that the talks, which were cordial, addressed issues of bilateral interest. He said that the deputy crown prince was confident that Saudi businessmen could invest in countries like Sri Lanka if they were offered attractive incentives.
He planned to launch a drive to attract Saudi investors to open up joint ventures in Sri Lanka. The envoy was confident that investments in his country would generate substantial returns for Saudi businessmen.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Sri Lanka totaled $817 million in the first half of this year, 51 percent more than the inflow during the same period a year ago.
Sri Lanka has set a $2 billion FDI goal this year, though it has failed to meet that target for two years in a row.
Colombo drew a record $1.42 billion in 2013, 6 percent more than the $1.34 billion attracted in 2012, central bank data showed.
Sri Lanka’s ambitions for more FDI were hampered by inconsistent investment policies, investors’ complaints of corruption and lack of good governance, as well as the government’s failure to address human rights violations in line with UN resolutions.
However, Sri Lanka still attracted FDI, mainly to its tourism industry due to optimism following the end of a 26-year civil war in May 2009.
Hussein Mohamed said that a good number of Saudi tourists visit the island frequently for holidays. “We hope to improve this segment since the country is an ideal destination for family holidays,” he said, adding that Saudi families will enjoy complete privacy and safety in all places of tourist interest.
The envoy said that he had extended an invitation to Prince Muqrin to visit Sri Lanka so that he could see for himself how peace has been restored following the defeat of terrorism by the government.
The ambassador also thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for various forms assistance to the country from time to time.
Hussein Mohamed is slated to present his credentials to King Abdullah in Jeddah on Thursday.