x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Sri Lankans in UAE mark independence day

Expats gather at the Sri Lankan consulate in Dubai for the 65th Independence Day celebrations.

Sri Lankan expats pray at a ceremony marking the country's 65th Independence Day at the consulate in Dubai. Razan Alzayani / The National
Sri Lankan expats pray at a ceremony marking the country's 65th Independence Day at the consulate in Dubai. Razan Alzayani / The National

DUBAI// Sri Lankan expatriates were urged to come together and work for their country's stability during yesterday's 65th independence day celebrations.

Abdul Raheem, the Sri Lankan consul general, said that although the island nation had enjoyed peace since May 2009 - when the military defeated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam after three decades of civil war - problems remained.

"We are still under threat and some internal and external elements are trying to shake the long-lasting peace achieved in the country by disturbing the political stability and the country's progress," he said. "We had enough difficulties during the darker era and we should not let these foreign elements disturb our motherland's stability."

About 250,000 Sri Lankans live in the UAE. Acknowledging them, Mr Raheem said: "I salute my Sri Lankan diaspora in the UAE for their contribution towards Sri Lanka's development.

"We have been upgrading the services of the consulate to meet the demands of the community."

Sri Lankans who attended the celebrations at the consulate said the war was over but there was still a lot to do.

"There is development and reconciliation," said Mohammed Owais, an engineer in Dubai. "Today at the consulate we see different communities gathered here. This would not have happened five years ago.

"They have brought peace but we still have long roads to go. The government is trying to reach out but there are differences. Hopefully, time will heal us."

Speaking in Colombo, the Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, said: "The nation has embarked on a path of development which has made freedom really meaningful. The time has come now when you and your children need not think with fear and suspicion about the future."

pkannan@thenational.ae