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Saudi Arabia has refused to back down from its escalating diplomatic dispute with Canada, saying that Ottawa knows what it needs to do to "fix its big mistake".

The clash between the two countries began last Thursday when the Canadian government posted a tweet expressing concern over Riyadh's arrest of two women's rights activists.

Saudi Arabia's national airline suspended flights to and from Toronto on Tuesday.

Additionally, on Monday it was announced that "training, scholarships and fellowships" for Saudi students in Canada are now being shelved. This comes after Canada's foreign minister called on the Saudis to release detained human rights activists.

Other sanctions include Saudi patients in Canada having their treatments stopped and being relocated to a medical facility outside the country.

Analysts and regional officials say that Riyadh's actions have little to do with Canada; instead, the kingdom's actions are a broader signal to western governments that any criticism of its domestic policies is unacceptable.

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The Canadian currency dropped as much as 0.5 per cent to 76.21 USA cents after the Financial Times reported that the Saudi Arabia central bank and state pension funds have instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of Canadian assets starting Tuesday. Riyadh accused Ottawa on Tuesday of interfering in its internal affairs. According to Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia has invested about $6 billion into Canada since 2006.

European traders said the main Saudi wheat-buying agency had told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin wheat and barley.

Saudi Arabia's central bank has instructed its fund managers to sell off their Canadian holdings, three people familiar with the matter said, the latest move in a widening diplomatic row that has also hit trade between the two countries as well as Saudi students studying overseas.

All Saudi Arabian students now studying in Canada will be transferred to other countries.

Saudi Arabia, under the new leadership of young Mohammed Bin Salman, has undertaken a number of reforms to fight radicalism, and improve human rights and economic prospects for the country.


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