Saudi Arabia to stop issuing visas to Swedes after criticism

Scorpion

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Saudi Arabia will no longer issue business visas to Swedes or renew the current visas of Swedish nationals living in the country, a senior Saudi official told The Associated Press on Thursday.


The official said the decision is in response to Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom's recent criticism of Saudi Arabia's record on human and women's rights. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

The move appears aimed at pressuring Stockholm to distance itself from Wallstrom's comments. She spoke out during a speech in the Swedish Parliament against the flogging of a Saudi blogger who was convicted of insulting Islam on a liberal blog he founded. She said the royal family had absolute power, making Saudi Arabia a "dictatorship" where "women's rights are violated."

Swedish companies are concerned that the escalation in tensions and the visa ban will hinder their ability to do business in Saudi Arabia, said Andreas Astrom, the communications director at Stockholm's Chamber of Commerce.

"This is going to have a vast negative impact for the companies with interest in the region," he said. "This is not good for Swedish business society and, in the long run, jobs in Sweden."

Sweden's new left-wing government recently declined to renew a defense cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia, which has since recalled its ambassador to Sweden.

Sweden last year exported nearly $1.3 billion worth of goods to Saudi Arabia, making it the 18th most important exporting country for Sweden, according to the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. Multinational companies like Volvo, H&M and IKEA operate in Saudi Arabia, as do a range of medium-sized businesses.

The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday also recalled its ambassador to Sweden to protest criticism of its neighbor Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are close allies and members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, an energy-rich coalition of Arab monarchies. The GCC's Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani on Thursday met with Sweden's Ambassador in Riyadh to formally criticize Wallstrom's remarks as "unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

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Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Karl Ritter in Stockholm, Sweden contributed to this report.

Saudi Arabia to stop issuing visas to Swedes after criticism - Yahoo News
 

Redheart

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Too bad for Sweden and those Swedes who own businesses in Saudi Arabia. Should the Swedish government fail to issue an apology then they stand to lose a lot. And it would negatively impact their economy too — a $1.3 billion loss. Not a loss that would be taken with a shrug of the shoulders. Maybe we'll see another spike in anti-Semitism? More attacks on mosques and the Swedish government doing little to stop the racists [or bringing them to justice]?
 
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I think a meeting is needed, as the human rights mainly the women, as they are the ones who suffer the most and this needs to be addressed as soon as possible or attacks could start soon. So the ones doing business will be facing losses and will be stressed out as, some of them would spent hard earned money and may not be able to get the money back which will cause tensions. It is the modern world and some are still living in the past and don't want to change which has been shown time and time again in this country.
 
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