By Ashraf Siddiqui/Correspondent
The opening of the new Sri Lankan embassy premises in Doha has been marked by the introduction of several key initiatives aimed at benefiting expatriates from the south Asian country in Qatar.
These include an upcoming emergency call centre, a new website and an independent unit for female domestic workers facing issues with their employers, besides a more spacious embassy building.
The opening ceremony was held on Friday in the presence of Sri Lankan ambassador Prof (Dr) W M Karunadasa, officials of the mission, members of the Sri Lankan community in Qatar and guests.
The embassy, which was earlier located in the Al Hilal area of Doha, has now shifted to Building 21, Al Raheeb Street, Zone 47 (behind the Porsche showroom) in Thumama district.
The new premises can accommodate around 2,000 people and is centrally located for the convenience of Sri Lankan expatriates living in Qatar, the embassy had said in a statement recently.
Addressing the gathering, the envoy said: “There are approximately 120,000 Sri Lankan nationals serving in Qatar. This is your place and the doors of the embassy are open for you 24 hours.”
Speaking on female domestic workers seeking help, he said the entire boarding and lodging expenses for such workers are to be borne by the Sri Lankan government for the duration of their stay under the embassy’s shelter.
The opening ceremony started with the lighting of the traditional lamp and live cooking of kiribath (sweet rice), followed by flag hoisting. A number of community leaders and members, including students from the Sri Lankan school and workers from labour camps, attended the programme. Children from Sri Lankan Dance Society also performed on the occasion.
Prof (Dr) Karunadasa said any Sri Lankan facing problems with their employers should come to the embassy without any fear, stressing that it is his duty to help solve genuine disputes and ensure the welfare of fellow Sri Lankans, protect the interests of his country and promote bilateral , trade and cultural relations between Qatar and Sri Lanka.
He also announced that the emergency call centre will be opened soon and his office will directly deal with the facility.
Seeking the support of members of the Sri Lankan community, the envoy said he was trying to solve the maximum number of issues with the limited human resources available at the embassy.
Ameerudeen Moulana, businessman and founder of the Sri Lankan Muslim Association, showcased the newly designed official website of the embassy. A variety of information and all kinds of application forms are available on the site, helping save time and effort, he said.
AKU Rohana, counsellor at the mission, said the embassy has planned to approach the Karwa authorities for a bus service from the Industrial Area to the road housing the embassy for the convenience of workers.
The embassy will resume operations at its new address from Sunday.
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