Photo Courtesy: Hans Hillewaert

The Kingdom donated 200 metric tons of dates to Sri Lanka to be distributed among mosques in the country during the holy month of Ramadan.

Abdul Hameed Mohammed Fowzie, senior minister for urban affairs in Sri Lanka, told Arab News yesterday from Colombo that the consignment was formally handed over by the local Saudi embassy before the holy month.

An official from the Saudi embassy in Colombo said: “We have been maintaining close relations with Sri Lankan Muslims and other community members in the country.”

He added this donation was a token of appreciation from the Saudi government.

Fowzie said: “We are thankful to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and his government for continuing the annual supply of dates to Sri Lankan Muslims in all parts of the island.”
He said this year Sri Lanka got 50 metric tons more than last year.

“We are happy the donation of dates offered by King Abdullah will be consumed by Muslims during their iftar (breaking of the fast).

“Those Muslims will always pray for the prosperity of the Kingdom and the longevity of King Abdullah.”
Fowzie added he had made arrangements to distribute these dates to local mosques.

Around 2,000 mosques are spread throughout the country and around 8 percent of the country’s 22 million population are Muslims.
The minister said the Kingdom has been helping Sri Lanka in good and bad times.

“With Saudi assistance, we completed a SR 75 million epilepsy and diagnosis hospital in Colombo, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka.”

“This is not the first time the Kingdom has come forward to assist the island in such projects.

“We have completed a neuro-trauma hospital in Colombo.”

He said the Saudi Fund For Development (SFD) gave an additional grant of SR 11 million for the development of health facilities at the neuro-trauma hospital, which was built with SR 40 million worth of Saudi aid in Colombo.

Following the tsunami disaster in Sri Lanka in 2004, the Kingdom immediately sent eight flights loaded with relief materials and pledged to construct houses for survivors.

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA), which opened an office following the disaster, donated 15 ambulances and sent a large consignment of medicines and medical apparatus to hospitals in the tsunami affected areas.

It also distributed 300,000 sets of school uniforms for children affected by the disaster.

A bridge costing SR 440 million and built with Saudi aid was opened by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Kinniya, the minister said.

Meanwhile Rajapaksa waived import duty on dates to Sri Lanka.

Source: Arab News