Saturday, January 31, 2009

Qatar Govt. to provide Arabic language training to Lankans

On the final day of his official visit to Qatar, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama met with key Ministers of the Government of the State of Qatar on Monday (12). In his discussions with the Minister of Awqaf, Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed bin Abdullah Al-Marri, the Foreign Minister requested assistance in terms of working out an appropriate mechanism in order to provide adequate Arabic language training to Sri Lankans coming over to Qatar for employment purposes. Currently, an estimated 130,000 Sri Lankan expatriate workers are employed in the country at various levels both in the private and public sectors.
Having an exposure to the Arabic language, the Minister said, would enable such personnel to interact even better and contribute immensely towards improving inter-personnel communication skills. Minister Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Marri agreed to consider the request favourably. He also agreed to pursue the possibility of signing a wide ranging Cultural Agreement between the two countries during the forthcoming visit of His Highness the Emir of Qatar to Sri Lanka.
Responding to a proposal made by the Sri Lankan Minister, the Minister of Awqaf, Endowments and Islamic Affairs agreed to set up a mechanism towards building an Islamic Centre in Sri Jayawardenapura, Kotte.

The Foreign Minister met with the Minister of Labour, Dr. Sultan Bin Hassen al-Dhabit al-Dousari who briefed him on the excellent contributions made by Sri Lankan expatriate workers in Qatar over the years. He recalled his recent visit to Sri Lanka during which an additional Agreement on Manpower was signed in January 2008 with Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare. Under Article 16 of this Agreement, a Joint Committee has been established. Both

parties agreed that its joint meeting be held in Colombo in April 2009.
During his call on Sheikh Fahad bin Jassim bin Mohamed al Abdurrahman al-Thani, Minister of Business and Trade, the Foreign Minister emphasized the need for a comprehensive economic element be made part of the agenda for the State Visit of His Highness the Emir of Qatar to Sri Lanka in May this year.
Agreeing to this proposal Minister Abdurrahman al-Thani informed the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister that a draft Economic Cooperation Agreement and a draft Investment Protection Agreement would be submitted to Sri Lanka for consideration.
Such Agreements, he stated, would infuse a sense of confidence for Qatari businessmen to engage with their Sri Lankan counterparts. Minister Abdurrahman al-Thani suggested greater cooperation between the trade chambers of the two countries in order to provide a platform for greater business cooperation. Explaining the mechanism to strengthen the economic cooperation, an initiative to create an Investment Fund between the two countries were discussed.
Investment in agriculture sector has been identified. The cooperation for food security established by Qatar whereby investments are made in foreign countries to ensure Qatar’s food supply, he said that Sri Lanka too could be included in this programme. Minister Bogollagama also met with the Minister of Economy and Finance Yousef Hussein Kamal with whom he held wide ranging discussions.

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