Saudi Arabia Expels Canadian Ambassador and Suspends New Trade with Canada

Saudi Arabia froze new trade and investment with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador, in a stern gesture of retaliation after Ottawa urged it to free Saudi activists that had been detained.

Riyadh said the move amounted to “a blatant interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs, against basic international norms and all international protocols”.

"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia ... will not accept interference in its internal affairs or imposed diktats from any country," the foreign ministry tweeted.

"The kingdom announces that it is recalling its ambassador to Canada [Naif bin Bandar Al Sudairi] for consultation."

The ministry said Canada's ambassador had 24 hours to leave the country, and announced the "freezing of all new commercial and investment transactions" with Ottawa.

It was not immediately clear what effect, if any, the ban on new trade would have on existing annual Saudi-Canadian trade of nearly $4 billion (£3.1 billion) and on a $13 billion defence contract.

The kingdom will suspend educational exchange programmes with Canada and move Saudi scholarship recipients to other countries, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya reported on Monday. Neighbours and allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates said they stood with Riyadh.