Jacqueline Fernandez Image Credit: IANS

Manama: A Sri Lankan actress who grew up in Bahrain has reportedly played a role in her country’s decision to open an embassy in the Bahraini capital Manama, an Indian news channel has said.

“By birth, Jacqueline Fernandez may be a Sri Lankan, but the actress takes her affiliation to Bahrain quite seriously,” NDTV said. “She recently helped in dialogues that will soon lead to the opening of the Lankan embassy in the Gulf country.”

Citing sources it did not identify, NDTV said that “Jacqueline has spent a lot of her growing up years in Bahrain, as her parents moved there”.

“There was no Sri Lankan embassy in Bahrain but only a consulate and she felt there was a need for someone to protect immigrants of a particular nation in another country. Apparently, thanks to her popularity the actress pulled a few strings and took matters into her hands. She had many meetings with those in power and urged them to open the embassy,” the source said.

Reports in Manama in December said that Sri Lanka was set to open its first fully operational embassy in Bahrain that will support the more than 20,000 Sri Lankans living in the country.

Sri Lankan honorary consul-general P.B. Higgoda told Bahrain’s Gulf Daily News that “it has been a long wait for the Sri Lankan community in Bahrain to have an embassy to help them out”.

“For years now we continue to provide mobile consular services to our nationals in Bahrain with the help of diplomats from the Sri Lankan Embassy in Kuwait.”

The new diplomatic mission is expected to include a community welfare officer, a labour attaché and the personnel required to provide consular services.

Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, and his Sri Lankan counterpart Professor G.L. Peiris stressed at a meeting in September in New York “the importance of the planned embassy in promoting diplomatic relations and co-ordination in all fields, while serving the Sri Lankan expatriate community in Bahrain”.

Jacqueline Fernandez who holds a degree in media and communications was born to a Sri Lankan father and a Malaysian mother. Her family moved to Bahrain when she was three.

She was crowned Miss Sri Lanka in 2006 and made her acting debut in Bollywood in 2009.