Saudi-Canada relations set to scale new heights

Updated 18 April 2016
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Saudi-Canada relations set to scale new heights

RIYADH: Relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada are set to scale new heights and Ottawa has identified some priority areas of cooperation, Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak said here on Sunday.

“Political dialogue and sound relationship” are key elements in Canada’s engagement with Saudi Arabia and with the extended Gulf region as a whole,” the newly appointed ambassador told Arab News.
He said the two countries had been working closely in several fields for the last many decades. “The new priority areas in which the two countries can work together are oil and gas, agriculture, sustainable technologies, health care, information and communication technologies as well as mining.”
The envoy, who also spoke about multimillion dollar assistance to help settle conflicts in the Middle East and fight Daesh, gave a detailed overview of the Saudi-Canadian relations, with special reference to the defense deal.
He also spoke about regional issues, while stressing the fact that the two countries have had nearly similar approaches on Syria, Yemen, Iraq and the Middle East peace process.
Asked about the supply of light armored vehicles and the unwanted criticism of the Kingdom in a section of Canadian press, Horak said he would not comment on the legal aspect of the deal signed by the two countries. He, however, added that Canada will honor the contract and the government has decided, as everybody knows, to honor the previously agreed contract for the sale of light-armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia.
The contract, worth $15 billion, involves Ontario-based General Dynamics Land Systems and Saudi Arabia, but brokered through the government-owned Canadian Commercial Corporation, according to reports published recently. The deal was signed in February 2014 after the visit of the then Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Kingdom.
In reply to a question about the progressively growing cooperation in education, Horak said there were over 16,000 Saudi students attending universities in Canada within the framework of the King Abdullah Scholarship Program.
“A large number of Saudi doctors are also being trained in Canada,” said the diplomat, adding that the enrollment of Saudi students is growing “quite substantially.”
He said the growing number of Saudi students strengthens people-to-people contacts, while creating strong complementary interests between Saudi Arabia and Canada.
Horak said a commercial delegation will arrive in the Saudi capital on April 25 with a mandate to boost commercial links between the two countries. The visit of the commercial mission is being coordinated by the Saudi-Canadian Business Council, he added.
On the trade front, the diplomat said that Riyadh and Ottawa have forged closer ties. “The two-way trade exceeds $3.3 billion annually,” he said, while promising to look for avenues of cooperation.
He also said that the Canadian government and the Canadian missions in Saudi Arabia have always been keen to facilitate visa issuance to businessmen, students and tourists. It takes only 10 to 12 working days to process a visa application, if all the requirements are met by the applicant.
“We are always looking for ways to improve the process,” said the diplomat, who likes to play ice hockey and golf.
Horak, who is fascinated by the life in the land of desert dunes, has also found some of his old diplomat friends currently serving in Riyadh. He was also happy to note that more women diplomats are being posted in the Saudi capital, which is narrowing the gender gap in the local diplomatic world.


Saudi Arabia urges global community to deter maritime trade disruptions

Updated 15 min 12 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia urges global community to deter maritime trade disruptions

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that Iran’s interception of commercial vessels, including its seizure of a British tanker, in Gulf waters was a violation of international law and urged the global community to deter such actions.
“Any disruption of the freedom of international maritime traffic is considered a violation of international law and the international community must do what is necessary to reject it and deter it,” the Saudi cabinet said in a statement carried on state media.
Iran said on Friday it had seized Britain’s Stena Impero tanker, which had been heading to a port in Saudi Arabia and suddenly changed course after passing through the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf.
Britain described the seizure as an act of “state piracy” and called for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the world’s most important oil artery.