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Canada–Saudi Arabia relations

Canadian–Saudi relations
Saudi Arabia

Canadian–Saudi relations are the relations between Canada and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Relations between the two nations, despite Canada's close relationship with Israel, have been strong and close.

Official relations

In 2000, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien made a state visit to Saudi Arabia. Currently, the two nations are strategic allies and partners.

Economic relations

Saudi Arabia is Canada's largest trade partner among the seven countries of the Arabian Peninsula, totalling more than $2,000,000,000 in trade in 2005,[1] nearly double its value in 2002.

At the end of 2012, Saudi Arabia became Canada’s second largest export market in the Middle East.[2] Much like Israel, most of the success of the current Canadian-Saudi relations is attributable to opposition to Iran and other countries in the region. On the Bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia, economic and trade interests continue to be at the forefront of all discussions and meetings.

In January 2014, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a visit to Saudi Arabia while on his Middle East visits.

In February 2014, Stephen Harper signed the longest weapons contract in Canada's history with Saudi Arabia.[3] Canada's multibillion-dollar sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia is a 14-year contract for military and commercial vehicles. The deal follows an agreement made last year that saw General Dynamics Corp (A U.S weapons maker) win 65.3 million dollar contract with the Colombian government.[4] The Saudi Government would not reveal the amount of steel-cad fighting vehicles, additional equipment, and training and support services included. Canadian Trade Minister, Ed Fast, has stated that the new deal "would create and sustain 3,000 jobs each year in Canada". He later goes on to say that the deal will also benefit 500 Canadian companies. All 500 names of the companies weren't disclosed to the public either. The deal was made possible by the Canadian Commercial Corp-the international government-to-government contracting organization.[5]

Heralded as a success by the Canadian Government, the new deal was not met without opposition. Many Canadian media-outlets and journalists expressed contempt for the new deal and stating, "by selling arms to tyrannical regimes like Saudi Arabia, Canada is putting profit over human rights."[3] Many have also claimed that the new deal is a violation of the norms and values Stephen Harper claims to abide.

However, Ed Fast's spokesman Rudy Husny, defended the new deal in a statement. He argued that, due to Saudi Arabia’s regional, global and strategic influence, and their value as a military ally, Saudi Arabia is an important trading partner. He later goes one to say, "We will continue to engage with Saudi Arabia on a range of issues including regional security and human rights."[5]

Official NDP opposition to the new deal has raised concerns about selling arms to a country who is a serial human rights violator. To no avail, some opposition leaders have tried to invoke the Canada's arms export laws to argue their case against the deal. However, export law may state that Canada is prevented from selling arms to countries with a persistent record of human rights violations, but that includes an exemption “for countries where "it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population"[4] Canada chiefly imports petroleum and oil from Saudi Arabia, while exporting manufactured goods such as aircraft, cars, machinery and optical instruments. The Royal Canadian Mint Winnipeg branch claims Saudi Arabia as one of its customers.

Other relations

In March, 2008, Mohamed Kohail became famous, as he is a Canadian man who may be the first westerner in decades to be executed in Saudi Arabia.[6] He has Canadian citizenship. The Saudis plan to behead him in public.[6] The Canadian government is debating on whether or not to appeal for clemency. This event may cause difficulties for the future of Canadian-Saudi relations.

The Kingdom continues to be an important source of foreign students for Canada. There are more than 15,000 Saudi students in Canada, including 800 resident physicians and specialists who provide care to the Canadian population.[1]

In 2000, Canadian William Sampson was arrested by the Saudi government for complicity in a suicide bombing in Riyadh, while maintaining his innocence.[7] He was imprisoned and tortured, and later criticized the Canadian government for not coming to his aid.[7] He was freed by British intervention after enduring torture for two years.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b "CANADA-SAUDI ARABIA RELATIONS". Canadian Government. 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  2. ^ "Canada-Saudi Arabia Relations". Government of Canada. 
  3. ^ a b "Why is Ottawa selling arms to oppressive regimes?". Toronto Star. March 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Palmer, Randall. "Canadian arm of weapons maker General Dynamics wins ‘biggie’ Saudi contract worth up to $13-billion". Business Report. 
  5. ^ a b Cudmore, James (February 14, 2014). "General Dynamics Canada wins $10B deal with Saudi Arabia". CBC News. 
  6. ^ a b "Canadian a step closer to execution in Saudi Arabia". CBC News. November 7, 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  7. ^ a b c STEPHEN THORNE (August 8, 2003). "Sampson tested by torture, deprivation". pub. Retrieved 2009-03-22. 

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