Canada asking allies to help cool Saudi dispute

Canada asking allies to help cool Saudi dispute

Ahmed Samir Islam, secretary-general of the Canadian Saudi Business Council, said representatives of Aramco Services Company - the US -based subsidiary of Saudi Aramco - made a formal visit to Calgary in April to make connections with Alberta-based oilfield service providers.

Independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders called Saudi Arabia's decision an "outrageous move" on Twitter, saying, "The U.S. must be clear in condemning repression, especially when done by governments that receive our support". Global engineering firm Jacobs Engineering Group - which announced in March that a team working out of its downtown Calgary office was working on a project for Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian state-owned oil company - also declined to comment.

A representative with Canada's ministry of global affairs did not immediately have a comment.

Analysts are concerned about how the diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada could escalate and what economic sectors could be impacted after the kingdom "put on hold all new business transactions" with Canada after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized the kingdom for detaining women's rights advocate Samar Badawi.

Saudi Arabia's main state wheat-buying agency has told grains exporters it will no longer buy Canadian wheat and barley in its worldwide tenders, European traders said on Tuesday.

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

The agency cited Saudi Health Attache in the United States of America and Canada Dr Fahd bin Ibrahim al Tamimi.

Directives were issued to the ministry to follow up on the affairs of Saudis in Canada.

"Both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together".

Last year, Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia were nearly $1.5 billion, while imports from the Middle Eastern country were about $2.6 billion.

The Alberta government is still getting details from its federal counterparts about Saudi Arabia's decision to halt all new trade and investment deals between the two countries, said Jessica Laremko, spokeswoman for Alberta Trade Minister Deron Bilous.

But it said it has asked the Saudi government "for additional information on the detention of several activists" and that it urges Riyadh "to respect due process and to publicise information on the status of legal cases".


A full-time Saudi student without Canadian citizenship attending a major school such as the University of British Columbia or University of Toronto would pay between $30,000 to $80,000 in tuition and living expenses, depending on their area of study and whether or not they live on campus.

The Saudis have also threatened to exclude Canadian companies from participation in the lucrative Vision 2030 programme, where the kingdom is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to modernise its economy.

Saudi Arabia appeared to have shut down the account on Tuesday.

Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia were about $1.12 billion in 2017, or 0.2 percent of the total value of Canadian exports.

Canada has indicated it will not back down, despite the risk of imperiling business deals including a significant $15 billion agreement to sell Riyadh light armored vehicles.

"Thousands of students (being withdrawn), that's a strong signal", said Roland Paris, a professor of International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and a former adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Another source said Canada will be turning to its old ally the United Kingdom for help, which has appealed for calm.

"Canada will continue to advocate for human rights and for the courageous women and men who push for these fundamental rights around the world", she said in a statement.

Among the arrested activists is Samar Badawi, whose writer brother Raif Badawi was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for insulting Islam while blogging.

For the unionized GDLS workers, it's a classic dilemma between the moral duty to defend human rights and economic self-interest.

"Of course Canada can continue supporting Saudi Arabia's reforms, but through means other than pressure and criticism". But 359 of those physicians were Canadian citizens or permanent residents, meaning they were likely returning home to Canada after studying medicine in Ireland. 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 Saud family as presiding over a "dictatorship".

The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Palestinian Authority have all come out in support of Saudi Arabia, as did Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania.

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