What the diplomatic clash between Canada and Saudi Arabia means to Canadian Expats
Late last week, in retaliation for comments made through Twitter on August 3rd by Global Affairs Canada urging the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to release women’s rights activists, Saudi Arabia expelled Canada’s Ambassador Dennis Horak and pulled their own ambassador from Canada. Saudi Arabia has more recently said that it will be pulling Saudi students from Canadian University and Colleges.
The question however remains- What does this mean for Canadian Expats living in Saudi Arabia?
In the short term, the answer is, nothing at all. Global Affairs Canada, in a telephone call with The Canadian Expat, assured us that the Canadian Embassy remains open and that they remain to assist Canadians in need. We also spoke briefly with our contacts at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa. They have said at present, there are no changes to how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia deals with Canadians currently in the country. Our sources at the Saudi Embassy did say however that imports from Canada could be in the scopes of the Saudi Government. Specifically they mentioned wheat from Canada.
In the mid term, the answer is a bit murkier. Anyone planning on moving from Canada to Saudi Arabia for work and “anyone needing to change or extend specific existing visas may have a very difficult time” our contacts at the Saudi Embassy said. This is potentially a bit of a grey area as Saudi Embassy staff along with individuals manning immigration offices and borders in Saudi Arabia may act on their own interpretation of the government’s move. It is important to note that it appears at this time that most Saudi Arabian officials are expressing support of the actions that their government has taken. Our contacts did mention that “there could very well be an escalation of our response”. They were not willing to elaborate other than suggest that some Canadian products might be a part of that escalation.
In the long term, this situation is not entirely uncommon and we should not be unnecessarily concerned. Diplomatic rowes happen on a daily basis. Yes, there will be some time before the furver surrounding this situation begins to subside but Canada and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship and there is no reason to believe that this relationship will normalize again in the relatively near future.
About the Author
Allan Nichols lived in Japan for close to 10 years, representing Canadian and other international destinations along with luxury tourism products to both wholesale and retail travel agencies throughout Asia. As an expat, he relied heavily on the personal networks he formed between other Canadians, Canadian business councils, Chambers of Commerce and the Canadian Embassies and Consulates that are located around the world.
Allan understands how diplomatic situations can alter the international business landscape but also understands the personal relationships often are able to overcome most obstacles.