Saudi Arabia-Canada spat hits 16,000 students as the Kingdom suspends scholarships

  • Saudi Arabia-Canada spat hits 16,000 students as the Kingdom suspends scholarships

Saudi Arabia-Canada spat hits 16,000 students as the Kingdom suspends scholarships

Days after it broke off diplomatic relations with Canada, the Saudi government is now selling off the kingdom's Canadian holdings, according to a news report, and it's doing it in a way that's likely created to push down the market value of Canadian assets.

Also worth noting is Canada's sure-footedness on the issue, at least to this point: There is potentially a giant cost to the heightening tensions; Canada's exports to Saudi Arabia surpassed 1.4 billion Canadian dollars previous year.

"I'm concerned about those students, but we still need to stand by our position that we support human rights in the world", Bessma Momani, an expert on Middle East issues and a political science professor at the University of Waterloo, said in an interview on Monday, the Star reports.

Saudi Arabia suspended diplomatic ties and halted new trade dealings late Sunday following comments by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticizing the kingdom for arrests of women's rights activists. "These issues may require constructive advice and assistance, but it should not come from a commanding tone coming from an alleged moral superiority". "We can't do it for them".

So far this year, Canada has exported $1.4 billion in merchandise goods to Saudi Arabia and imported $2 billion, according to Statistics Canada data.

The dispute began after a tweet by the Canadian foreign ministry on Friday, in which it expressed "concerns" over the arrests of civil and women's rights activists in the Kingdom and called for their immediate release.

Riyadh also said it will relocate thousands of Saudi students studying in Canada to other countries, while state airline Saudia (also known as Saudi Arabian Airlines) announced it was suspending flights to Toronto.

Analysts and regional officials say that Riyadh's actions have little to do with Canada; instead, the kingdom's actions are a broader signal to western governments that any criticism of its domestic policies is unacceptable. Annual Saudi-Canadian trade hovers around $4bn.

When asked about the jailed activists, Jubeir reiterated the government's earlier stance that they had been in contact with foreign entities, but did not specify the charges against them.