The ongoing feud between the Saudi Arabia and Canadian governments reached a new level earlier this month when they ordered their Saudi nationalist students to leave Canada.
“In the wake of Saudi Arabia’s expulsion of Canada’s ambassador, the kingdom has suspended scholarships for about 16,000 Saudi students studying here and ordered them to attend schools elsewhere,” Canada’s The Star reported on Monday, August 6th, via the Al Arabiya English online news website, which is a Saudi-owned media outlet out of Riyadh.
For background on the dispute read TNB’s report “Saudi Arabia Threatens Canada With 9/11 Imagery” here.
Saudi students were given an August 31st deadline to either leave the country and return or find other countries to accept them. Many of them were already gone for the summer break and expected to return for the start of fall semester classes, but now that has changed to students scrambling to find a place to transfer to, selling their belongings such as furniture and cars in preparation to leave, as well as selling their homes or cancelling leasing contracts, to meet their government’s orders. Many students are there with their families adding on another level of disruption.
The downstream effects of this are starting to take effect and be realized from an economic stand point to even doctors who are there in Canada getting specialized training and working in hospitals as part of their program which is run and administered by Canada’s Royal College of Physicians of Surgeons of Canada. Not just in the big cities, The Star goes on to report, but in rural areas as well, which will leave some hospitals and communities short of doctors.
As the deadline fast approaches some of the training doctors have been given a three-week extension but are to leave by September 22nd, Businness Insider reported on Sunday.
The majority of these foreign students from Saudi Arabia who are attending colleges and universities in Canada are only there “through the King Abdullah scholarship program, which covers their tuition, flights, and accommodations, as well as a stipend for living expenses,” Middle East expert Professor Bessma Momani at University of Waterloo explained to The Star.
After the expulsion of Canada’s ambassador Dennis Horak was ordered on August 6th to leave within 24 hours they also ordered their own ambassador there in Canada to return to Saudi Arabia immediately, then cancelled all flights to Toronto and froze all “new trade and investment” deals going forward.
It is still not clear what will happen to existing agreements. Canada imports about 10% of its oil from the Saudis whereas exports to the kindom are largely geared around trades deals involving armored tanks and carriers.
“General Dynamics Land Systems in London Ont., inked a $15-billion deal four years ago with the Saudis to provide that country with light-armoured vehicles,” The Star said.
Canada’s colleges and universities are doing everything they can to help the Saudi students in this ordeal.
A spokesperson for York University said, “of the 7,259 international students at that school, 115 are from Saudi Arabia,” and that “their immediate focus will be on supporting these students understand the potential implications for them.”
According to Canada’s CBC News, Robert MacKinnon, vice-president of Canada’s UNB Saint John University said, “universities in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, among other countries, are helping with transfer arrangements.”
Both sides appear to be at an impasse, with neither willing to budge at this point.