World Media

Saudi Arabia's diplomatic dispute with Canada: An explainer

Saudi Arabia's diplomatic dispute with Canada: An explainer

The kingdom went further to a plan to shift Saudi university students studying in Canada to other countries such as the United States and suspended all flights by its national carrier to and from Canada.

A state-run news organization is reporting the kingdom is cutting off scholarship and fellowship programs to about 15,000 students now taking classes in Canada.

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

"We are waiting for Saudi Arabia to offer some more specifics on what they intend to do", Freeland said when asked about the arms deal.

"We're always going to speak up for woman's rights and that's not going to change", she said, adding that it wasn't the first time Canada has spoken out about human rights in Saudi Arabia.

Dozens of students will be impacted in Calgary by Saudi Arabia's decision to withdraw its citizens studying under scholarships at Canadian universities.

Dan McTeague, a senior analyst at the fuel price tracking website GasBuddy, said any such disruption could easily be offset by alternative supply, as Saudi Arabia's oil continues to represent an increasingly small portion of Canada's crude imports.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry cited remarks last week by Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and the Canadian embassy in Riyadh, criticizing the arrests of women's rights activists such as Samar Badawi. Raif was arrested in 2015 and has been sentenced to seven years in prison as well as 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam".

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

The dispute appeared centered around tweets by Canadian diplomats calling on the kingdom to "immediately release" detained women's rights activists.

Nauert declined to denounce Saudi Arabia's detainment of the Badawi sisters.

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.

It isn't clear what new business would be affected by Saudi Arabia's expulsion of Ottawa's envoy.

Some reports have suggested Saudi government scholarships could be pulled.

Ms Badawi was given the US International Women of Courage Award in 2012 and is known for challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system. "They're friends, they're partners, as is Canada as well".

"I will say Canada is very comfortable with our position". Gabriel also made remarks that were seen as critical of the Saudi war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia has invested about $6 billion Canadian businesses since 2006, data compiled by Bloomberg show.