When will a Sri Lankan leader visit a Gulf country?

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I have been eagerly waiting to see a Sri Lankan leader visiting Saudi Arabia or any one of the six gulf countries for the last 46 years I have been here. Every time an international leader lands in Riyadh, I get this thought refreshed in mind quite frequently. It is worth mentioning that soon after winning the US presidential election Donald Trump chose Saudi Arabia to be his first country to visit.

In early January 2020, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Emirate of Abu Dhabi invited our newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to visit the UAE. The Crown Prince affirmed then his expectation for expanding the bilateral relations between the UAE and Sri Lanka. The two parties agreed that this visit would be a great opportunity to discuss the common interests of the two nations.

Our President, in his positive response to the invitation, tweeted: ‘I was honoured to receive an invitation from His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to visit UAE toward strengthening bilateral relations and pleased to have accepted the same.

I was extremely pleased to see that this is finally happening, one of our Sri Lankan leaders is visiting a Gulf country for the first time but sadly it never happened and we are at a loss to understand why after all formalities are completed. After a cordial invitation, followed by an official acceptance, why did it not take place?

Gulf countries employ a large number of Sri Lankan expatriates. Currently, our largest foreign exchange earning is coming to our homeland from the Lankan expatriates in the Gulf.

How long it will take for our leaders to realise the importance of cultivating excellent relations with all six oil rich Gulf countries. If the former US President could do it, why not we? I appeal to our President to give serious thought to this matter.


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