Canada-Saudi Arabia relations
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Canada and Saudi Arabia share common interests related to regional and global peace and security, focused specifically on energy security, humanitarian affairs (including refugees), and counter-terrorism. Saudi Arabia is an integral and valued regional security and economic partner, both for Canada and key allies.
Saudi Arabia is a leader of the Arab and Muslim worlds, as evidenced by its leadership role in the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is also headquartered in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is also the only member of the G20 from the Arab world. Saudi Arabia retains global importance as the Guardian of the Two Holy Mosques (Mecca and Medina) and is the religious home of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. Every year, thousands of Canadians are among the millions of Muslims who perform the annual hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca.
As of 2022, Saudi Arabia is the world’s leading oil exporter, and the second largest oil producer behind the United States. According to 2021 estimates, it holds 17% of the world’s known oil reserves. As such, the Kingdom plays a key role in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the broader OPEC+, and has considerable influence on the global economy.
In Saudi Arabia, Canada is represented by the Embassy of Canada to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia is represented in Canada by an Embassy in Ottawa.
Trade and economic interests continue to be an important facet of Canada's bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia. In 2022, Saudi Arabia was Canada’s most important two-way trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and 23rd globally. Merchandise trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia in 2022 was approximately $5.1 billion, with $1.3 billion exports from Canada and $3.8 billion imports to Canada. Exports and imports were mainly from traditional sectors such as oil and gas, defence and heavy machinery, but there is room to grow other upcoming sectors in the Saudi economy such as digital platforms, manufacturing, entertainment and tourism in line with the Kingdom’s economic diversification goals.
In 2016, Saudi Arabia launched Vision 2030, a large scale economic and social development plan to diversify its economy away from oil, develop its public sector and bring about social change. This domestic agenda aims to develop new sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, tourism and entertainment. It also includes the launch of mega infrastructure projects from industrial complexes to full cities such as Neom. Development under Vision 2030 aims to be environmentally sustainable and to promote the use of clean energy.
The implementation of Vision 2030 has been funded primarily through the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, currently valued at over $600 billion. While its economy is still overwhelmingly reliant on oil revenues, Saudi Arabia is actively seeking to diversify its economy and explore new investment ventures in line with the Vision 2030 Agenda.
Partnerships and organizations
To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Saudi Arabia work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
- The G20
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- United Nations (UN)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
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