Canada emerges as top destination for Saudi students

Tom MacDonald

Tom MacDonald

A senior Canadian diplomat said here Tuesday that the number of Saudi students studying in Canada has seen ‘record growth’ with 18,000 students currently enrolled in various disciplines at Canadian academic institutions across the country.

MacDonald, in an interview with Arab News, said: “Canada is among the top destinations for Saudi students who add to the diversity and the enrichment of academic campuses across that country.”

“The growing number of Saudi students is building bridges between our two nations that will last for generations. Thanks to the student connection and the wonderful King Abdullah Scholarship Program, every year I find that I have thousands more ambassadors for Canada in Saudi Arabia,” he remarked joyfully.

The huge presence of Saudi students is an important component of the bilateral relationship for many years to come he added noting that “Canada now also has over one million Muslims which is another important connection between the Kingdom and the second largest country in the world.”

On the recent exchange of official visits, he said that Canadian officials visit Saudi Arabia on a regular basis to discuss a range of matters of mutual interest. “In the two years that I have been ambassador, we have had visits from our ministers of foreign affairs, international trade, agriculture, public safety, and minister of state for defense,” he noted.

Asked about the Canadian relations with the Kingdom in the fields of commerce, politics and culture, MacDonald said Saudi Arabia is Canada’s largest trading partner in the Middle East. “We are also together in the G-20, and both our nations are important contributors to global energy security, strong collaborators on counter-terrorism, and like-minded on many regional issues,” he added.

On the political front, he said Saudi Arabia and Canada have forged closer ties. In September 2013, the Canadian foreign minister met with Prince Saud Al-Faisal, foreign minister, and other GCC ministers at the UN in New York, where it was proposed that Canada and the GCC initiate a “strategic dialogue,” which shows the deepening of the relationship between Canada and the GCC countries, particularly with Saudi Arabia, he observed.

Moreover, Canada shares similar concerns with the GCC countries on regional issues. “Canadians are appalled by the brutality of the Assad regime in Syria,” said the envoy. “We have committed more than $630 million in humanitarian, development and security assistance in response to the crisis in Syria,” he added.





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