The Strategist

Saudi Arabia is getting rid of its Canadian assets

08/09/2018 - 06:04

The central bank and pension funds of Saudi Arabia have instructed companies that manage their assets abroad to get rid of Canadian stocks, bonds and money market instruments "regardless of prices," the Financial Times reported citing informed sources.

Abdelrhman 1990
Abdelrhman 1990
Saudi Arabia reacted sharply to the Canadian authorities’ criticism of the arrest of activists fighting for the right of women to drive a car. Riyadh considers it an interference in the internal affairs of the country.

On Monday, the country announced suspension of all investments in Canada and new trade transactions. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia declared the Canadian Ambassador persona non grata, and also recalled the Saudi ambassador from Ottawa.

According to FT sources, Saudi Arabia has allotted more than $ 100 billion to management companies to invest in global markets. Although the share of investment in Canadian assets in this amount is probably "low enough," the very fact of the sale of assets by Saudi Arabia bears a rather powerful message, one source said.

By selling Canadian assets, Riyadh shows its financial and political power to warn foreign governments against interference in the country's internal affairs, a banker commented to the newspaper. "All this is very serious," he added.

Saudi Arabia decided to lift the ban on women's driving in September 2017, but it came into force only on June 24, 2018. Several activists were arrested in May and June 2018, just before the new rules came into force.

Last Friday, the Canadian Foreign Ministry urged the Saudi authorities to immediately release arrested human rights defenders, including Samar Badawi. The Saudi Arabia regarded Canadian statements as an interference in internal affairs.


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