The Sri Lankan expatriate community in Qatar, which is around 120,000, generates about $600mn in remittances to the South Asian nation’s economy, the country’s top diplomat in Qatar has said.
Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the ‘Taste of Sri Lanka’ festival organised recently by the LuLu Group, Sri Lankan ambassador Mohamed Mafaz Mohideen emphasized that Sri Lankan remittance outflow is a “significant contribution” from Qatar.
The ambassador also noted that the value of Qatar-Sri Lanka bilateral trade has been averaging $90mn year-on-year (y-o-y). The majority of Sri Lankan exports to Qatar is composed of apparel, fruits, and vegetables, with special emphasis on bananas, as well as superfoods being the latest addition.
He also pointed out that Sri Lanka’s trade office in Qatar is working to attract more tourists from Qatar to the South Asian nation, which is known for its attractive tourist destinations.
“This sector is continuously growing and it requires little effort from Sri Lanka because our country has a lot of beautiful tourist spots to offer. We have a product that has been recognized around the world,” the ambassador stressed.
Citing reports, Mohideen noted that Sri Lanka was recently adjudged as “one of the topmost destinations” and “safest countries to be traveled.”
“There had been good, positive reviews about Sri Lanka’s tourism sector, so that has been attracting a lot of inbound tourism. This is our tourist season and we’re seeing the numbers climb rapidly, which is a positive sign because tourism contributes about $2bn to $3bn to Sri Lanka’s economy,” he explained.
The ambassador also lauded the LuLu Group’s support and employment generation for Sri Lankans both in Qatar and across the GCC. He stressed that business between LuLu Group and Sri Lanka has steadily increased annually in terms of food exports and manpower, which has grown from 25 to over 500 employees in the last two weeks.
Mohideen lauded the operations of LuLu’s export distribution facility in Colombo, saying it allows the group to easily source local products and engage in farm-to-market operations, which provide local suppliers access to international markets.
On the country’s economic growth, the ambassador acknowledged the challenges of attracting investors and foreign direct investments into Sri Lanka in light of the country’s economic turbulence. However, he emphasiZed that “every downturn presents opportunities.”
“As we are emerging from this tough period, it will definitely present lots of opportunities and serious investors in a variety of sectors, such as real estate, agriculture, hotels, hospitals, ports, and tourism. These are areas that we are looking at and targeting to attract investors. There’s still so much that we can do,” he added.