A diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Canada has escalated after Ottawa's foreign ministry rebuked Riyadh for jailing human rights activists in the kingdom and demanded their immediate release.

Saudi Arabia considers Canada's comments an interference in its affairs that require what it calls a "sharp response". It has expelled the Canadian ambassador and recalled its envoy from Ottawa.

Saudi state-owned airline has suspended direct flights to Toronto. And the government says it will end trade and investment ties.

Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated its concerns over the Saudi arrests in a tweet on Friday.

One of the activists mentioned in that tweet is Samar Badawi - a relative of Canadian citizens - who was arrested last month.

Badawi, who is known for challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system, is the recipient of the 2012 International Women of Courage Award.

But is international criticism enough to improve human rights in the kingdom?

Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoom


Rothna Begum - Senior researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Sultan Barakat - Director of the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute

Imad Harb - Director of research and analysis at the Arab Center in Washington, DC

Source: Al Jazeera News