We’re not a banana republic, Saudi FM tells Canada

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. (Reuters)
Updated 27 September 2018

We’re not a banana republic, Saudi FM tells Canada

  • ‘In Canada we became a political football. Find another ball to play with, not Saudi Arabia,’ Al-Jubeir says
  • Canadian Minister of Global Affairs Chrystia Freeland has insisted that the issue was about human rights

JEDDAH: Canada's leadership was “playing into the hands of extremists” when it tried to pressure Saudi Arabia into releasing some people being held for serious crimes, the Kingdom’s foreign minister has said.

Speaking during a multi-topic discussion at a forum of the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank in New York on Wednesday, Adel Al-Jubeir said Canada had all the right to criticize Saudi Arabia about human rights or women rights, but it went overboard in “demanding” the “immediate release” of certain detainees.

“What are we a banana republic? Would any country accept this? No, we don’t. If you do this, you play into the hands of the extremists who are opposing our reform process,” Al-Jubeir said.

Stung by Canada’s insolence, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh early last month, recalled its own ambassador from Ottawa, and froze all new business and investment transactions with the North American nation.

Riyadh has also said it was moving all Saudi scholarship students out of Canada, unless Ottawa apologized.

In response, Canadian Minister of Global Affairs Chrystia Freeland has insisted that the issue was about human rights.

During the forum on Wednesday, Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia’s stand remained unchanged considering that Canada has not backed down.

“We did not do this, you did. Fix it. You owe us an apology. Apologize, say you made a mistake,” he said.

“In Canada we became a political football. Find another ball to play with, not Saudi Arabia,” Al-Jubeir added.

He explained that the detainees that the Canadian government had been lobbying for were facing charges of espionage.

He said the Canadian ambassador met the Saudi public prosecutor, who explained to him the charges are not about rights but about national security. 

“These were individuals who were accused of taking money from governments, accused of recruiting people to obtain sensitive information from the government and passing it on to hostile powers, accused of raising money and providing it to people who are hostile to Saudi Arabia outside of Saudi Arabia. Some of them were released, others will go to trial and the evidence will be revealed to the world. The Canadians knew that this was not about rights. And for a Tweet to come out in this manner from our perspective is outrageous,” Al-Jubeir explained.


Fraud alert over cryptocurrency falsely linked to Saudi Arabia

Updated 21 August 2019

Fraud alert over cryptocurrency falsely linked to Saudi Arabia

  • The website of a cryptocurrency company is promoting what it calls the CryptoRiyal and SmartRiyal
  • The Singapore-based company uses the Saudi emblem of two crossed swords and a palm tree

JEDDAH: Fraudsters are trying to lure victims into investing in a “virtual currency” with false claims that it is linked to the Saudi riyal and will be used to finance key projects, the Saudi Ministry of Finance warned on Tuesday.

The website of a cryptocurrency company in Singapore is promoting what it calls the CryptoRiyal and SmartRiyal, using the Saudi emblem of two crossed swords and a palm tree. Its “ultimate goal” is to finance NEOM, the smart city and tourist destination being built in the north of the Kingdom, the company claims.

“Any use of the KSA name, national currency or national emblem by any entity for virtual or digital currencies marketing will be subject to legal action by the competent authorities in the Kingdom,” the ministry said on Tuesday.

The fraudsters were exploiting ignorance of how virtual currencies work, cryptocurrency expert Dr. Assad Rizq told Arab News.

“A lot of tricks can be played,” he said. “Some of these companies are not regulated, they have no assets, and even their prospectus is sometimes copied from other projects.

“They hype and pump their project so the price goes up. Inexpert investors, afraid of missing out, jump in, which spikes the price even higher. Then the owners sell up and make tons of money.

“Cryptocurrencies are a risky investment for two reasons. First, the sector is not yet fully regulated and a lot of projects use fake names and identities, such as countries’ names or flags, to manipulate investors.

“Second, you have to do your homework, learn about the technology. And if you still want to invest, consider your country’s rules and regulations.”