A Canadian scholar is blaming the Canadian government’s “carelessness” for mishandling its relationship with Saudi Arabia and costing its citizens jobs in the Gulf kingdom.
Joshua Snider said he had been teaching in Malaysia for about six years but then he decided to apply for a teaching job in Saudi Arabia. He thought the new job would be able to better support him and his family — his fiancé and two toddlers — financially.
In order to do that, the 39-year-old academic — who hails from London, Ontario — decided to move to the Saudi capital city of Riyadh on Aug 25. His job as an assistant professor at the King Fahad Security College, run by the Gulf kingdom’s Ministry of Interior, would have paid him much better than his previous job.
However, that’s when the relationship between the two sides deteriorated.
Earlier this week, Snider received a letter from the ministry telling him he was no longer wanted for the job. Apparently, the representative had made excuses for the reasoning behind his job loss before finally telling him the position was no longer available.
Saudi officials had at first told the academic the decision to terminate his pending employment came from the University of New Haven. The King Fahad Security College had recently formed a partnership with the American university. Snider said he had been in contact with it throughout the recruitment process but the New Haven university said it remained unaware of Snider’s job loss until he himself told him.
Saudi officials later apologized for the “mix-up” and then told him the position was no longer available.
A separate letter to a visa agent in Ottawa stated “kindly stop all the deployment processes for our candidates.”
“I was just in shock. Imagine you're two weeks away from moving across the world. You've resigned from your job. You're thinking about starting a new life. You're making plans and within that space of time, they just cancel it," said Snider.
“I'm shocked, emotional … and gutted. Like what am I going to do?” he added.
Snider is now pointing fingers at his federal government for botching up the diplomatic relationship and putting the jobs of other Canadian nationals in Saudi Arabia in jeopardy.
“That tweet showed a level of carelessness in terms of the impact it might have on Canadians who work in the Kingdom or who were about to work there. Freeland wasn't' thinking about the blow back from this decision," said Snider. “I care about human rights. I'm an academic and I like when Canada takes stands but they were not smart on how they did this. They cost Canadians jobs.”
The new move came after a sudden blowout between Canada and Saudi Arabia when Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland denounced the Gulf kingdom for arresting two female civil rights activists.
Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.— Chrystia Freeland (@cafreeland) August 2, 2018
Freeland’s criticism was followed by another critical tweet by the Canadian Department of Global Affairs that called for “immediate release” of the detained activists.
Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018
Snider is now desperately trying to get his old job back in Malaysia. However, he is still very disappointed with the lost work opportunity that the clash brought him. It has also cost him a lot of frustration, time and cost.
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