A key truism in the discipline of history is that the past finds its way to sneak into the present. To this end is the relevance of books that contain “all-you-need-to-know” information about what happened in the past while taking the readers on a journey through time.
A book of this kind is Sri Lanka – Oman Relations: Past, Present, and Future authored by Omar Lebbe Ameer Ajwad. It is a treasure trove of facts, figures, and stories of the ancient yet modern and dynamic relations between Oman and Sri Lanka.
“The objective behind this book is to reinvigorate the past, highlight the present, and chart pathways for the future by providing relevant information with a view to fostering deeper economic engagement between the two countries”, says Ajwad.
The book, which was launched as a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Sultanate of Oman and Sri Lanka, provides a comprehensive glimpse of this strong and well-preserved association between the two countries while sketching its past, illustrating its present, and forecasting its future. This has been aptly pointed out by Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad al Busaidy in his forward note, “The book demonstrates that every step of our countries’ journey together has been underpinned by a deep-rooted connection between our peoples”.
The book with historical references, expert opinions, and commercial endeavours was penned by Ameer Ajwad during his stint as Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman.
Sri Lanka and Oman’s diplomatic journey spans just over four decades. However, the tales in this book show that the bonds go back centuries, if not millennia, into the mists of time.
“It brought a smile to my face to revisit the story of the Jewel of Muscat, and to hear that Omani Halwa is known as “Halwa Muscat” in Sri Lankan households. Ameer Ajwad is a great authority on the Sri Lanka-Oman relationship and this overview of successful bilateral initiatives ensures that every reader will find it informative, accessible, and engaging”, comments Al Busaidy.
As neighbours in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka and Oman trace their links to the mist of history. Geographically located at the centre of the maritime trade route between the Persian Gulf and the Far East in the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka had naturally attracted a number of Arab seafarers and seafaring vessels from ancient times. As such, Sri Lanka’s contact with the Arab world dates back to the pre-Christian era, primarily driven by trading.
Thanks to its location on the eastern coasts of the Arabian Peninsula to the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean, Oman played a major role in the ancient maritime trading and cultural exchanges.
Early documented history records the passage of merchant seafarers from Oman to Sri Lanka and vice versa across the Indian Ocean as well as their service to the world as entrepôts of trade in the ancient Silk Road and Spice Route.
People-to-people connectivity has been the bedrock of modern Sri Lanka and Oman relations. The Sri Lankan Community in the Sultanate of Oman has been an important component in forging relations between the two countries.
“Having had the privilege as the first Sri Lankan ambassador to present credentials to His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, who leads the renewed Renaissance of the Sultanate of Oman with a clear roadmap of Oman’s Vision 2040 and its Tanfeedh initiative, I thought to document the enormous prospects that are unfolding under this new era for the future cooperation between Sri Lanka and the Sultanate of Oman to become strategic, bilateral, regional and multilateral partners in the years ahead”, affirms Ajwad in his forward note.
As Sri Lanka’s Envoy to the Sultanate of Oman from the year 2019 to 2022, Ameer Ajwad says he had the distinct honour to serve Sri Lanka in Muscat at the interface of two epochal moments in the history of the Sultanate of Oman. This involved the reigns of both their Majesties, late Sultan Qaboos and his successor Sultan Haitham bin Tarik.
“I cherish the memories of these two legendary leaders and their great qualities of leadership. I also cherish the memories of Omani hospitality, helpfulness, and warmth of the people of Oman”.