Recently, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Canada had a break in diplomatic ties due to differences in human rights opinions.  As a result, the Saudi government has requested that Saudis studying in Canada to quit their studies and return to the Kingdom by 31st August.

This morning, CBC reported that 20 Saudi student have claimed refugee status in Canada.  Omar Abdulaziz, a Saudi activist who has claimed refugee status, said he is encouraging Saudi students to do the same.

While the refugee route to Canada seems to be the easiest route to take given our present government’s sentiment towards refugees. But the consequences of this course of action are likely to be enormous.  Too qualify as a refugee, one must have a well- found fear of persecution in your home country.  In the case of the Saudi students, they must demonstrate how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is persecuting them. This will be a lot of negative publicity for the Saudi Government.

I am aware that some countries do not take such publicity lightly – they see this as an act of ‘betrayal’ and these people are treated as ‘traitors’ who could only one day return to their motherland at their peril. Many of who have attempted to return have been arrested and jailed.   Of course, there is always a belief that Canadian government would help free them, but honestly, how many of these Canadian citizens did our government manage to set free?

I lived in Saudi Arabia for 3 years and have had numerous opportunities to do business with Saudis.  Saudi citizens enjoy many privileges – such as a tax- free environment (foreigners enjoy this as well), free scholarship abroad, privilege to request monetary or any other assistance from members of the royal family when needed, housing privileges, job offers, guarantee average income, child subsidy, free medical, etc.

It is not just the monetary privileges that Saudi students have to consider, they have to think of their family members as well. As Omar Abdulaziz said, his family living in Saudi Arabia has faced threats as a result of his decision.  These Saudis students must be ready to take the risk of losing not just their scholarships, but all monetary rights that they are entitled to as Saudi citizens.  They also risk losing their immediate and extended family, putting their family under political pressure, and the possibility never to return to their motherland.

There are other ways of migrating to Canada that will be less risky than claiming refugee status. Many Saudi citizens, who are also Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents are living in Canada and they have the opportunities to return to Saudi Arabia.

There is a saying: think about the consequences thoroughly three times before you take any drastic action. Like I said there are other ways to migrate to Canada and this differs from person to person.  Please contact me if you are interested to learn more.