Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Canadian firms chasing Saudi business left in limbo

Canadian firms chasing Saudi business left in limbo

The sharp diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Canada has left Washington - partners and allies of both - in a bind, but the State Department on Tuesday nevertheless urged Riyadh to respect due process for detained activists.

On Monday evening, the airline, Saudia, made the announcement on its Twitter account that it was suspending flights from the 13 August.

Saudi state media is now threatening foreign countries from behind a computer screen.

Saudi Arabia's actions followed criticism from Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and other diplomats who denounced the conservative kingdom for its recent arrest of women's rights activists.

It also said, "Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs".

The Saudi government also is canceling its funded scholarships for nearly 12,000 students in Canada.

Saudi Arabia's market closure comes on the heels of ongoing trade disputes in other key Canadian grain markets including Italy, Peru, Vietnam, and India as well as increased protectionist sentiments within the United States. At McGill University, in Montreal, it said they now have 327 students enrolled from Saudia Arabia.

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Over the weekend Saudi Arabia declared the recall as well as a freeze on new trade with Canada following a tweet last week from Global Affairs Canada that expressed concerns about the arrest of activists in the kingdom.

However, despite the potential impact of his government's foreign policy on local schools and students studying in Okanagan, Fuhr said he stands behind Canada's foreign affairs minister.

He said the Canadian investments in Saudi Arabia are still ongoing, but it's looking implementing additional measures against Ottawa. So far, Canada and Amnesty International are the only global entities to speak out against the arrests and they have called on other states such as the United Kingdom, the US and France to follow suit. "We can't do it for them", she said.

Saudi Arabia doesn't want to be lectured to by the West and they are delivering the message. In tandem, the Saudi ambassador to Canada would also be recalled as well in light of the spat. "The first Canadian source said Ottawa had no regrets about speaking out on human rights in Saudi Arabia".

Saudi Arabia has been informing customers that it has temporarily scrapped penalties and fees on all upcoming direct flights to and from Toronto, adding it is working to find alternative solutions to the problems.

Ottawa said it was "seriously concerned" and was seeking "greater clarity" on Riyadh's move, announced on Twitter by the Saudi foreign ministry.

She noted most of the Saudi students are not here short-term. She is also the sister of Raif Badawi, a jailed rights blogger who has gained global recognition. In 2015, Riyadh recalled its ambassador to Sweden and stopped issuing work visas for Swedes after the European Union member country's foreign minister described the Badawi court decision as "medieval" and the kingdom's ruling Al Saud family as presiding over a "dictatorship".

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