Dr Harsha de Silva visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from 1 to 4 May to resolve long-standing Consular and labour issues faced by Sri Lankan migrant workers there. During his meetings with Dr Mofarrej Saad Al- Hoqubani, Labour Minister and Dr Ahmed Al Salem, Deputy Interior Minister of Saudi Arabia, Dr Harsha de Silva articulated the problems of stranded Sri Lankan employees and convinced the two Ministers of urgent need for finding solutions in the immediate future. Both Ministers agreed to devise a mechanism for arranging exit permits for ensuring early repatriation of stranded persons to Sri Lanka.
At the request of Dr Harsha de Silva, the two Saudi Minsters also agreed to periodically share employment details of Sri Lanakan workers during their stay in Saudi Arabia. This would be a major breakthrough as it would enable the Embassy to speedily reach out to Saudi employers of Sri Lankans workers who are faced with serious problems and are in need of urgent Consular and welfare assistance from the Embassy. In the absence of such details, the Embassy presently finds it hard to address their issues promptly. The Minister found time to address the community of Sri Lankan professionals in Riyadh and to encourage their initiatives to promote trade, investment, tourism and culture between the two countries. M. A Thassim, Sri Lanka Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Sudantha Ganegama Arachchi accompanied Minister de Silva to the meetings with the Saudi dignitaries.