Saudi Arabia-Canada spat hits 16,000 students as the Kingdom suspends scholarships

In the aftermath of the Saudi Arabia-Canada row, which was sparked by the detainment of human right activists by Saudi authorities in Riyadh, the kingdom has now suspended the scholarships of 16,000 of its students studying in Canada, further ordering them to leave the country and attend schools elsewhere.

The first seeds of dissension were sown by a tweet from Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on Thursday which criticised Saudi’s detainment of human right activists including Samar Badawi in Riyadh and called for their immediate release.

Responding to the criticism, the kingdom expelled Canada’s ambassador and asked their own ambassador to return from the North American country. They further ended diplomatic ties, froze all new trade and investment and cancelled flights via their national carrier to Toronto.

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.