Sri Lanka National Day celebrations at Expo 2020 Dubai
Sri Lanka National Day celebrations at Expo 2020 Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: With vivid yellow sapphire covering its facade, Sri Lanka Pavilion showcased its natural resources, tourist attractions, investment and business opportunities, as well as its timeless ruins, rail network, world-class culinary scene, preserved ecosystems and stunning spiritual monuments during its national day at Expo 2020 Dubai on Monday.

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Foreign Minister Gamini Lakshman Peiris highlighted the country’s export potential and opened a series of cultural festivities, including a beautifully-choreographed show that presented the history of Sri Lanka from its beginnings to the present day.

‘The Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, staged during the ceremony, highlighted the heritage of Sri Lanka, and also portrayed phases of agriculture, medicine and healing, Mother Nature and astrology by blending traditional dancing with entertainment and drumming.

'Wonderful opportunity'

Peiris said: “Expo 2020 is a wonderful opportunity for Sri Lanka to showcase our unique offerings. We have many inherent strengths: the warmth and hospitality of our people in the tourism sector; the scenic beauty of the island and its cultural heritage; our value-added exports of Ceylon tea; world-famous sapphires; and spices, of which we produce 85 per cent of the world’s cinnamon.”

The Sri Lankan Foreign Minister was welcomed at the Expo by Ahmed Al Sayegh, Minister of State; Khalid Nasser Sulaiman Al Ameri, Director of West Asia Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Najeeb Al Ali, Executive Director, Office of the Commissioner General, Expo 2020 Dubai.

Al Sayegh said: “By adopting the theme ‘Opportunities beyond waters’, one that is quite fitting for a country that has the highest waterfall density in the world, the Sri Lanka Pavilion highlights how this friendly nation innovatively transforms challenges into opportunities, along with its tremendous capacity for entrepreneurship.”

UAE and Sri Lanka officials at Sri Lanka Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai
UAE and Sri Lankan officials at Sri Lanka Pavilion at Expo Image Credit: Supplied

People-to-people relations

Peiris said: “We have 300,000 Sri Lankans living and working in the UAE. They contribute to the economy here and send valuable foreign exchange back to their home country. Not only does the UAE and Sri Lanka have excellent bilateral relations but our people-to-people relations are robust as well, which adds a strong dimension to our relationship.

“We are proud to say that our two countries have enjoyed strong and friendly relations for decades, with the UAE being the largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in the Middle East, and collaboration extending across a diverse number of sectors, such as trade and investment, environmental cooperation, as well as mutual support on the international stage.”

Press conference at Sri Lanka Pavilion
Press conference at Sri Lanka Pavilion Image Credit: Supplied

Meanwhile, at a media briefing, Prasanna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Tourism, described Expo 2020 as an opportunity for Sri Lanka to market itself to the world. He also thanked the UAE for “giving the opportunity to the world to come together under one umbrella”.