Saudi decision to withdraw scholarship students will affect dozens in Calgary

10 August, 2018, 02:00 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Saudi decision to withdraw scholarship students will affect dozens in Calgary

Among those arrested was Samar Badawi, whose brother Raif Badawi was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

The clash with the Saudis is not the first time Canada risked losing major business over its "rights-first" diplomacy.

"Both Canada and the United States lost the Middle East market a long time ago. because they are at a freight disadvantage (with higher ocean shipping costs) to the European Union and Black Sea export markets", the consultant said. Her former husband, Waleed Abu al-Khair, is now serving a 15-year prison sentence for his human rights work and her brother, the famed activist and blogger - Raif Badawi - has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for setting a website for public discourse.

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.

On Monday, Saudi's foreign ministry recalled its ambassador to Canada for consultations and declared the Canadian ambassador persona non grata, giving him 24 hours to leave.

State-run television has reported that Riyadh will stop training, scholarship and fellowship programs in Canada - a move that will apparently affect the scholarships of more than 15,000 students attending university in Canada.

There's a lot of uncertainty for Saudi Arabian students after their country made a decision to suspend government scholarships for studying in Canada.

Trudeau - who referred to the matter as "a diplomatic difference of opinion" - told reporters in Montreal that Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had held a long conversation with her Saudi counterpart on Tuesday, but gave no details.

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Maritime universities are keeping a very close eye on a sudden and serious diplomatic spat between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Last Tuesday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said at least 15 human rights defenders and women's rights activists critical of the Saudi government had been arrested or detained arbitrarily since 15 May.

Badawi was arrested at the end of July along with fellow Saudi women's rights activist Nassima al Sada.

According to Günter Meyer, director of the Center for Research on the Arab World at the University of Mainz, Crown Prince bin Salman is trying to prove to his people that his government is still effective in its foreign policy. But, our correspondent adds, during the recent crackdown on activists he has also shown that he will not tolerate dissent.

Such efforts could bring a serious negative impact to Canada's economy, although the move also raises questions over the reliability of Saudi Arabia's foreign investment as it seeks to promote internal economic growth. Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia totaled about $1.12 billion in 2017, or 0.2 percent of the total value of Canadian exports.

"Saudi Arabia is shooting itself in the foot".

"Saudi Arabia simply can not afford to alienate any other sections of the global community in the midst of its unpopular military engagement in Yemen, its indirect confrontation with Iran", commentator Jamal Khashoggi wrote in the Washington Post.

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