Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Saudi Arabia pulls scholarships for students in Canada amid diplomatic tensions

Saudi Arabia pulls scholarships for students in Canada amid diplomatic tensions

Saudi Arabia announced that it would not engage in any new trade dealings with Canada in response to Ottawa's call for the release of women's rights activists.

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Saudi Arabia says it will withdraw all of its students studying in Canada in an intensifying rift between the two countries over the kingdom's human-rights record.

He said their 93 outgoing Saudi Arabian students represented the seventh or eighth leading country of VIU's 2,300 global student population.

The Saudi government on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Ottawa, barred Canada's ambassador to Riyadh and placed a ban on new trade, denouncing Canada for urging the release of rights activists.

Egypt saw crucial USA military aid frozen previous year over its own human rights record amid one of its toughest ever crackdowns on dissent, but that decision was reversed last month.

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Saudi Arabia has suspended state-sponsored scholarships for about 16,000 students studying in Canada and ordered them to transfer their studies to post-secondary institutions in other countries.

Momani called it, "getting tough on Canada", which she said other countries in the region might welcome if they view Canadian foreign policy to be led by human rights concerns.

Last week, Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concerns over the arrests of seven Saudi civil society activists.

Traders said they had received an official notice from the Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO) about its decision.

It recalled its envoy from Ottawa and gave Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak 24 hours to leave the country.

This included a Tweet suggesting a 9/11-style attack on Toronto. It is unclear how many people this will affect, however, the Vancouver Sun said in 2015 about 5,000 news students arrive from Saudi Arabia each year.

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While both countries are friends of the USA, "both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a media briefing later Tuesday.

Samar's brother, blogger Raif Badawi, was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for "insulting Islam" in a case that sparked an worldwide outcry. Saudi allies are quickly rushing to their side to issue statements accusing Canada of "meddling" by criticizing Saudi arrests of human rights workers.

"There are now more than 12,000 Saudi students studying in Canada, 7,000 of which are on scholarship programs while many are accompanying spouses and children".

Al Jubeir said the charges against women's rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al Sada will be made public once the case reaches the courts.

In 2014, the Conservative government approved a C$15b arms deal that would allow a Canadian company to sell military vehicles to the Saudi government. "We can't do it for them; they need to resolve it together", U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing. "We can only stand with Saudi Arabia in defending its sovereignty and taking the necessary measures to protect its laws", Anwar Gargash, the minister of state for foreign affairs in the United Arab Emirates, tweeted Monday.

At the same time, it sends a strong message to European countries but also countries in the Middle East not to "mess" with Saudi Arabia, Juneau said.

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