H.E. U.L. Mohammed Jauhar with Managing Editor Reaven D'Souza

H.E. U.L. Mohammed Jauhar comes across as a soft spoken and friendly diplomat who has years of experience behind him. Ambassador Jauhar took over the Sri Lankan mission during the most challenging times of dealing with a lock down, distribution of food supplies and as well as repatriation of a large number of Sri Lankan nationals.

By Reaven D’Souza
Managing Editor

A veteran diplomat who has been representing and serving his country’s interests abroad for decades, the Ambassador of Sri Lanka H.E. U.L. Mohammed Jauhar ended his successful tenure in Kuwait and returned to Colombo last week. Ahead of his imminent departure, in an exclusive interview with the Managing Editor of The Times Kuwait, Ambassador Jauhar spoke about his experiences in this country in promoting Sri Lankan affairs, ensuring the welfare of the Sri Lankan community, and working to further cement the strong bilateral relations between Sri Lanka and Kuwait in all domains.

Beginning the interview by expressing his pleasure in representing Sri Lanka in foreign countries, Ambassador Jouhar remarked that, over his years with the Sri Lankan Foreign Service, he had served in various world cities, including Washington DC, Islamabad, Geneva, Toronto, and now in Kuwait. I entered the Sri Lanka Foreign Service by chance, said the ambassador, adding, “A leader of the Sri Lankan Muslim community, who happened to know that I got through another island-wide exam for administrative staff officer positions, suggested that I join the Sri Lanka Foreign Service. This encouraged me to sit for the competitive examination and thank God I too got selected.”

“Each of my assignments abroad was challenging, with each station having unique and different trials to tackle. But, with the guidance of my senior colleague and diligent efforts on my part, I was able to fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to me, including in areas such as looking after the welfare of Sri Lankans workers abroad, as well as defending the government and the people of Sri Lanka at international fora. In this regard, Kuwait was no different; the country presented its own set of challenges.

Dean of Diplomatic Corps H.E. Dr. Zubaydullo Zubaydov handing over the memento to Ambassador of Sri Lanka H.E. Mohammed Jauhar during the farewell reception.

“I assumed duties in September 2019 as the Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Kuwait, and within six months of my arrival we had to face the COVID-19 pandemic. The embassy had to assist tens of thousands of Sri Lankans who were severely affected by the pandemic. We had to arrange distribution of food supplies to community members and to help Sri Lankans wanting to repatriate back to their homeland during the pandemic.

“However, with assistance from the Kuwait Government, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society, other non-governmental organizations and well-wishers we were able to mitigate the problems faced by the Sri Lankan community during the pandemic. In particular, I would like to thank the Kuwait Red Crescent Society for its efforts in providing medical aid worth $186,000 to Sri Lanka during the pandemic, which along with the Embassy’s own contribution of $35,000 worth of medical supplies and equipment, helped my country during the height of the pandemic.”

Pointing out that Sri Lanka and Kuwait share strong bilateral bonds, and that in 2021 the two countries celebrated 50 years of flourishing diplomatic relations, the ambassador stated: “Both the Governments are very eager to bring the existing cordial and friendly bilateral ties in diplomatic, political, and economic spheres to the next level. In fact, we are in the process of finalizing many agreements and Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) to achieve our shared objectives.”

Turning to bilateral economic relations and mutual investments, the ambassador said, “I would like to mention here that during my tenure here the Embassy was able to facilitate the signing of an agreement with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development for a loan of KD10 million, to establish the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka.

“Regarding sectors of the Sri Lankan economy that would be of special interest to investors from Kuwait, I would like to underline that we are keen to enhance our relations with Kuwait in the energy sector, as well as in the tourism sector. For Sri Lanka, tourism is one of the most important sectors and we are looking for investments in the hospitality industry from Kuwaiti investors. I would also like to take this opportunity to encourage citizens and residents of Kuwait to visit Sri Lanka to experience the country’s wonderful tropical climate.

“Sri Lanka has consistently been ranked among the world’s favorite destinations for travelers seeking the experience of a lifetime. My country has everything to offer for a variety of holiday makers. The attractions vary from beautiful beaches to lush green vegetation to well-preserved ruins of an ancient civilisation. No one will be disappointed visiting Sri Lanka. Recently Jazeera Airways had its award ceremony for its executives and travel agents and tour operators in Colombo, which was graced by our Minister of Tourism and State Minister of Foreign Affairs.”

Emphasizing the role that the Sri Lankan community in Kuwait played in strengthening relations with Kuwait, the envoy noted, “There are over 110,000 Sri Lankans living and working in Kuwait, with most of our migrant workers being employed in the domestic sector. They are reliable and hard working, and very much liked by Kuwaiti and other sponsors. However, we are now striving to increase the share of skilled and semi-skilled Sri Lankan workers in Kuwait.”

In closing, Ambassador Jouhar expressed his gratitude towards Kuwait and thanked His Highness the Amir, His Highness the Crown Prince, the Prime Minister and the government for hosting the Sri Lankan community in Kuwait.

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