Saudi airline stops flights to Canada amid escalating diplomatic row

Saudi Arabia Expels Canadian Ambassador, To Withdraw Students From Canada Over Women's Rights Criticism

Within a day, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador, froze all new investment, and canceled all flights to Toronto. Spokeswoman Marie-Pier Baril reiterated her country's position "for the protection of human rights, very much including women's rights, and freedom of expression around the world". Freeland said Canadians "expect" its foreign policy to be driven by Canadian values.

The rift has also prompted Saudi Arabia's state airline to suspend operations in Canada.

Travel to the country will affected in light of an announcement from Saudia Airlines on Tuesday that it will suspend flights to and from Canada starting August 13.

Pain at the gas pumps will not be an issue if escalating tensions between Ottawa and Saudi Arabia result in the oil-rich Gulf state halting Canada-bound shipments of its most famous export, according to a leading petroleum industry expert.

Transport Canada did not immediately respond to request for comment on the decision.

Despite those ideals, however, the country has continued to take aggressive actions against some neighbours and concerns about domestic human rights practices persist.

The latest retaliatory move came after Canada's ministry of foreign affairs raised concerns about the arrest of women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi (pictured main), sister of imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi.

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Thompson Rivers University stands to lose nearly one-tenth of worldwide students on its campus - and tens of thousands of dollars in revenue - as a result of a diplomatic row between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

Mr Alzayani criticised Canada's statements and unsubstantiated allegations that he said violate the worldwide diplomatic norms and represent a flagrant and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs and encroach on the United Nations charter, the Bahrain News Agency reported. Freeland said the embassy in Saudi Arabia is still in place and providing services to Canadians.

Following this move, a new report from Saudi-owned media outlet Al Arabiya revealed that "training, scholarships and fellowships" for Saudi students in Canada are now being shelved.

In response, Canada's foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland said the government will not back down.

At the same time, it sends a strong message to European and Middle Eastern countries not to "mess" with Saudi Arabia, Juneau said.

The true impact of Saudi Arabia's flexing of diplomatic muscle is still unclear.

"We must stand with Saudi Arabia as it defends its leadership and laws".

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