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Canadian universities scrambling amid Saudi student suspension

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada

In her first public response to Saudi Arabia's actions, foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said, "Let me be very clear".

Riyadh on Sunday recalled its ambassador from Canada and gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave, Azvision reports citing Mirage News.

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

The Global Affairs Canada tweet that triggered the spat said Canada is "gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi". He has launched a campaign of social and economic change, but has not eased the absolute monarchy's total ban on political activism.

They are "the latest victims of an unprecedented government crackdown on the women's rights movement that began on May 15, 2018 and has resulted in the arrest of more than a dozen activists", the US-based rights group said.

Analysts say the dispute between Riyadh and Ottawa shows Saudi Arabia won't accept any outside criticism and will continue flexing its muscles overseas, especially as the kingdom enjoys a closer relationship with President Donald Trump.

"We're going to stand with the values that we know are important to Canadians and Saudi Arabia will take the decisions that they will take", he said, reiterating for business owners that Canada is doing well economically and must continue to remain competitive.

The moves, carried on the official Saudi Press Agency, caught diplomats in Riyadh off guard. It's also cancelling scholarships for more than 15,000 Saudi students attending Canadian universities, which will yank away big economic benefits Canada reaps from worldwide tuition fees.

Riyadh, which suspended diplomatic relations with Canada on Monday, will "stop training, scholarship and fellowship programs" there, state-run Al-Ekhbariya television reported.

"It would be a shame for those students if they are deprived of the opportunity to study here", Freeland told reporters.

One well placed source said the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - which stresses the importance of human rights - planned to reach out to the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi state airline Saudia also announced Monday that it would suspend flights to and from Toronto starting August 13.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a loose association of the six Gulf Arab countries, the Arab League and Palestine also supported Saudi policy.

It insisted the activists were being detained lawfully and that the Canadian statements represented "blatant interference in the kingdom's domestic affairs" and "a major, unacceptable affront to the kingdom's laws and judicial process".

Canada said it was seeking "clarity".

"Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights".

Riyadh has a record of responding robustly to Western criticism under Mohammed bin Salman.

Some analysts perceive the move as both a power play for the kingdom's young leader and a demonstration put on for the benefit of countries with stronger ties to Saudi Arabia than Canada.

"This year could have been a year where we could have seen some (Canadian) barley trade there in October-November", said Jerry Klassen, manager at trading house GAP SA Grains and Products in Winnipeg.