Saudi Arabia’s Spat with Canada Shows No Signs of Stopping—Now Citizens Can’t Seek Medical Treatment in Canada

Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic row with Canada is showing no signs of slowing.

Early Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency reported that the kingdom will be stopping all medical treatment programs of Saudi citizens in Canada. All Saudi patients in the country will be transferred to hospitals outside of Canada.

Saudi Health Attaché in the United States of America and Canada Fahd bin Ibrahim Al Tamimi said that the move is intended to “ensure the safety of Saudi patients who receive treatment in Canada with their companions, and to complete their treatment elsewhere.”

The barring of medical treatment is just the latest in a series of seemingly one-sided escalations. Earlier this week, the kingdom announced that the state airline would no longer fly to Canada and issued an order for all Saudi citizens studying in Canadian universities to leave their programs of study. The students will reportedly be put in programs in other countries, such as the U.S. and U.K.

The spat began after Canada publicly condemned the arrests of women’s rights activists, including Canadian citizen Samar Badawi, and called for her release. On Monday, the Saudi government deemed the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia persona non grata and froze all new trade and investment transactions.

The Canadian government has not responded in kind.

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