Saudi Arabia to relocate Canada-based students, following diplomatic spat

Thousands of Saudi students in Canada to be uprooted, following diplomatic spat
2 min read
06 August, 2018
Thousands of Saudi students in Canada will be relocated to other countries after Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Ottawa.
Around 7,000 Saudi students are in Canada [AFP]
Thousands of Saudi students will be relocated from Canada, after Riyadh launched a diplomatic war against the North American country.

Riyadh announced on Monday it was cancelling scholarships for Saudi students to Canada, after Ottawa criticised the kingdom's jailing of human rights activists.

Saudi media reported that Riyadh would "stop training, scholarship and fellowship programmes" in Canada, after Riyadh ordered the Canadian ambassador out of the country on Monday.

Education ministry official Jassem al-Harbash told Saudi television channel al-Ekhbariya that efforts were underway to move some 7,000 Saudi students and their families from Canada to other countries, most heading to the US and UK.

These students, 2,000 of whom are enrolled in graduate or medical school, are accompanied by more than 5,000 dependents, he said.

"The US and UK will get the lion's share, given their size and the education opportunities there, and we've begun coordinating with the missions there," Harbash added.

He listed Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore as other possible destinations for the students.

The spat broke out after Canada criticised the detention of Saudi activist Samar Badawi - sister of jailer blogger Raif - last week.

"Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists," Foreign Policy CAN tweeted on Friday.

Canada hosts Raif Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is said to have brought up the blogger's case with the Saudi leadership.

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