Saudi Arabia reportedly directing selloff of Canadian assets after criticism

Frederick Owens
August 8, 2018

Relations between the countries have dramatically deteriorated following last week's intervention by Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, over the detention of women's rights activists.

Riyadh also froze new trade with Ottawa and made plans to relocate thousands of Saudi students and patients in Canada to other countries.

However, he clarified that Canadian investments in Saudi Arabia were still ongoing, and there was no change.

Now, the kingdom has suspended training, scholarships, and fellowships of 16,000 of their students studying in Canada and has asked them to find academic programs elsewhere, according to a report by Saudi-owned Television channel, Al Arabiya.

Several countries have expressed support for Saudi Arabia, including Egypt and Russian Federation, which both told Ottawa it was unacceptable to lecture the kingdom on human rights.

The Financial Times (FT) reported the Saudi central bank and state pension funds had instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings "no matter the cost", citing unidentified sources.

Responding to a question about the reason for the arrest of the activists, Jubeir repeated earlier allegations that they had been in touch with foreign entities.

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Since then, the Saudi kingdom has pursued a scorched-earth policy towards anything related to Canada.

Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, estimated the overall trade relationship between Canada and Saudi Arabia totals between $3 and $4 billion a year.

All Saudi Arabian students now studying in Canada will be transferred to other countries.

"It's up for the government of Saudi Arabia and the Canadians to work this out", said Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the state department, on Tuesday.

Since rising to power in 2015, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has courted Western allies by offering to buy billions of dollars worth of arms.

The diplomatic spat between Canada and Saudi Arabia that erupted over the weekend has left many wondering what exactly is going on.

The kingdom has suspended educational exchanges with Canada and moved Saudi scholars to other countries.

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