he speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council, Dr. Abdullah Al-Asheikh, said on Monday that he would look into resolving issues faced by Sri Lankans in Saudi Arabia and the possibility of increasing the Hajj quota for the island nation in the near future.
Al-Asheikh is leading a delegation to Sri Lanka on a three-day official visit, on the invitation of the speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament, Karu Jayasuriya.
On Monday, he held talks with Jayasuriya and other members of the Parliament, where he was apprised of issues faced by the 200,000 Sri Lankans residing and working in various sectors of the Kingdom.
COLOMBO: Among those present during the meeting were the former Hajj Minister and Deputy Minister A.H.M. Fowzie, and parliamentarian Mujibur Rahman.
The Saudi delegation was represented by Lina Almaeena, Dr. Osama Al-Rabiah, Dr. Fathima Al-Shehri and Atta Al-Turki.
Every year, around 4,000 pilgrims travel to the Kingdom for Hajj, while more than 40,000 pilgrims visit Makkah and Madinah for Umrah through the year.
Al-Asheikh hailed Saudi-Sri Lankan bilateral relations, which he said were growing stronger based on cooperation and friendship under the two countries’ leaderships. He extended an invitation to Jayasuriya and other legislators to visit the Saudi Shoura Council’s headquarters in Riyadh.
He also suggested that economic cooperation between the two countries could be developed through the trade sector and mutual investments.
Jayasuriya said he was delighted to host the Saudi delegation for the visit, which would enhance the existing ties between the two nations.
Speaking to Arab News, legislator Rahman said that the visit could pave way for extended areas of cooperation between the two countries.
“Such dialogues between the members of the legislative and consultative houses will help us to understand the respective systems, cultures and parliamentary practices,” Rahman added.
Hailing the decisions taken during the talks on Monday, Fowzie told Arab News that he was happy that Al-Asheikh had pledged to look into increasing the Hajj quota.
“This year, we were given an increase of 500 pilgrims to reach a total of 4,000 Hajj pilgrims,” Fowzie said.
Al-Asheikh arrived in Colombo on Sunday. According to the Saudi ambassador to Sri Lanka, Nasseer Al-Harthy, the purpose of the trip is to strengthen parliamentary and bilateral relations in all sectors. Al-Asheikh pointed out that the Kingdom and Sri Lanka shared a similar goal in combating terrorism, which was not related to religion or race.
On Sunday, the Saudi Shoura Council speaker also met former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.