quotes Canadians celebrate National Flag Day

14 February 2024
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Updated 14 February 2024

Canadians celebrate National Flag Day

Today, Canadians at home and around the world celebrate National Flag Day of Canada. On this day in 1965, one of our country’s most well-known symbols — the maple leaf — was raised on Parliament Hill for the first time. For Canadians, the maple leaf is synonymous with our identity and symbolizes peace, unity, openness, and diversity and inclusion — a reflection of Canadian society.

In my role as ambassador of Canada to Saudi Arabia, I am pleased to see the maple leaf fly over our embassy in Riyadh every day, reminding us of the pride of being Canadian. I am also thrilled to witness what has been an incredible new chapter in the expanding bilateral ties between Canada and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a truly dynamic country that continues to undergo tremendous change. Many of the reforms underway in the Kingdom are ones that Canada espouses, such as the empowerment of women and youth, promoting economic prosperity and modernizing governance. Supporting the success of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030, and identifying opportunities to partner with Saudi Arabia during this transformation, are to the benefit of both our countries.

In this regard, I am pleased with the significant momentum generated in our bilateral relationship since May 2023, when our two countries formally restored full diplomatic relations to their previous level. Since then, our leaders Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have spoken on several occasions, substantive and warm high-level visits have taken place both ways, and we only expect more to come.

Events taking place in the Kingdom, such as the Future Minerals Forum and the Future Investment Initiative, are attracting a growing number of Canadian business visitors. Through such visits, Canadian companies are bearing witness to the successful diversification of the Saudi economy, and the vast opportunities for bilateral cooperation in traditional and in new and innovative sectors such as culture, tourism and clean technology. It is no surprise then that many Canadian companies either have already opened offices in the Kingdom or are considering doing so, in order to take advantage of the vast commercial opportunities here.

The people-to-people links between Saudi Arabia and Canada are also a cornerstone of our relations. The rich community of Saudi alumni who studied at Canadian universities has contributed to deepening people-to-people ties. To this end, we are pleased that Canada is back on the list of scholarships offered by the Saudi government to students wishing to study in Canada. Encouraging more educational exchanges between our youth can help change common misperceptions about our countries and encourage greater understanding between Canadians and Saudis toward new and forward-looking partnerships.

We recognize that a secure and stable region is a prerequisite for Saudi Arabia’s ambitious vision to succeed. While the region is at a precarious moment, the Kingdom has demonstrated its leadership in encouraging de-escalation and in seeking to resolve conflicts, whether in Sudan, Yemen, or more recently in Gaza. Canada shares the Kingdom’s commitment to a meaningful two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In repeatedly convening diverse players for talks on the peace formula to end the war in Ukraine, Saudi Arabia is also playing a constructive diplomatic role in global peace and security. We will continue to work together toward a safer and more prosperous world for all. 

It is a pleasure and privilege to serve in this fascinating country at a time of change and optimism in our bilateral relationship. I have greatly enjoyed meeting Saudis in Riyadh and across the Kingdom, and have appreciated their warm hospitality, their drive to deliver on Vision 2030, and their hope for the future. It is also a great privilege to work with Saudi Ambassador Amal Al-Moallimi in Ottawa, a highly experienced and trailblazing female Saudi diplomat, as we continue to reinvigorate the rich linkages between our countries and seize the opportunities that this new era presents. I look forward to expanding bridges between Canada and Saudi Arabia across a range of shared priorities — from promoting economic prosperity and contributing to vibrant societies, to advancing regional peace and security.

  • Jean-Philippe Linteau is the ambassador of Canada to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Yemen.