Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH — Canadian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Jean-Philippe Linteau, announced the return of direct flights between Jeddah and Toronto for the first time in five years, with three flights per week starting in December.
In an interview with Saudi Gazette, Ambassador Linteau emphasized that Canada aims to elevate its relationship with Saudi Arabia to new heights and has no intention of reverting to the previous state of the relationship in 2018.
He mentioned that he arrived in the Kingdom with representatives from 26 Canadian universities and educational institutions to present educational opportunities and reengage with Saudi students.
The Canadian diplomat, who began his mission in Riyadh four months ago, finds himself at a crucial stage in the history of the two countries following a nearly five-year diplomatic rift.
The rift ended with a high-level understanding between Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Bangkok in November of last year.
Saudi-Canadian discussions led to closing the chapter of disagreement and restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries based on mutual respect and common interests.
While Jean-Philippe Linteau started his diplomatic work as his country’s ambassador in Riyadh, Saudi Ambassador Amal Al-Moallimi commenced her work in the Canadian capital, Ottawa.
There’s been close coordination between the ambassadors to revitalize the relationship and exploit opportunities for cooperation and growth between the two countries.
Ambassador Linteau clarified “When the two countries decided to restore diplomatic relations in May 2023, our goal is not to go back to where we were in 2018, but to move forward, taking advantage of the new Saudi Arabia and how the Kingdom has changed.”
“We focus on three main aspects in the relationship, including the trade and investment file and the opportunity to grow what exists between the two countries.
“Secondly, Saudi Arabia is now looking to achieve peace and stability globally, and we work together on that. Thirdly, Vision 2030 is a wonderful program, and Canada wants to support its success.”
The Canadian Ambassador emphasized that what caught his attention in the Kingdom is the culture of hospitality and generosity that Saudis possess.
He highlighted that Saudi Arabia is rapidly changing, and the immense transformation is only fully understood when witnessed firsthand, expressing his amazement at the changes taking place in the Kingdom.
Regarding the developments in the relationship between the two countries, he confirmed the resumption of direct flights between Jeddah and Toronto starting from Dec. 2, 2023, and the reactivation of scholarships for Saudi students in Canadian universities.
He explained the many opportunities available for trade cooperation between the two countries and the interaction of Canadians with major projects in Saudi Arabia.
He said: “Vision 2030 is reinventing Saudi Arabia in terms of economic diversity, creating significant investment and trade opportunities.”
He expressed his desire to see more Canadian companies invest in Saudi Arabia. He added: “The Saudis will benefit from the economic transformation that the Kingdom is undergoing by creating job opportunities that contribute to development and prosperity.”
He pointed out that the massive social changes in the Kingdom create numerous opportunities for women to actively contribute to the country.
The Canadian Ambassador considered Jeddah an important commercial hub and a gateway to the Two Holy Mosques, giving it special importance in light of the presence of more than two million Muslims living in Canada.
He expressed his plans to visit more regions in the Kingdom, confirming that Saudi Arabia is a diverse country with an interest in visiting many regions, including AlUla, Al-Ahsa, and Asir, to get to know them up close.