Nova Scotia

Huge mosque yard sale helps Saudi students scrambling to sell belongings

Carloads of people gathered in the parking lot of the Ummah Mosque in Halifax on Saturday afternoon as Saudi students sold their belongings in preparation to leave Canada indefinitely.

'They're selling their cars, their homes, their furniture — everything'

Nahed Mohammad bought a car Sunday from a Saudi student who was selling his belongings at a yard sale outside the Halifax mosque. (Danielle d'Entremont/CBC)

Nahed Mohammad just bought a car in the parking lot of a mosque, in a unique yard sale that has dozens rushing to get rid of almost all of their belongings.

Carloads of people gathered in the parking lot of the Ummah Mosque on Saturday afternoon as Saudi students sold their belongings in preparation to leave Canada indefinitely.

"It's a shame they have to leave on such short notice, they have to quit their jobs, their studies, some of them are doing their PhDs. Imagine what a crisis it is for them," said Mohammad.

Everything must go

This comes after a diplomatic spat between Ottawa and Riyadh that has the 835 Saudi students enrolled in Nova Scotia's post-secondary institutions packing their bags.

They are among 8,300 Saudi students in Canada who have been ordered by their government to leave their studies and the country behind.

On Sunday, the Saudi students opened the trunks of their cars to sell everything from dart boards to immaculate gold vases. Some were even selling the cars themselves.

Saudi students sold household items and other personal belongings at the mosque yard sale. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

"Our hearts go to them and we hope they're going to do better in the future. But we're doing our best here to help out," said Mohammad.

She doesn't personally know the young man who sold her his Nissan for only $1,500 — but she feels connected to the students.

"I don't know them," said Mohammad. "But in humanity, we are one."

Behind Mohammad, a man is crouched down spreading out plush toys separated into clear plastic bags. The man is not from Saudi Arabia.

Mohammad said he is a local resident who is selling the toys and giving all the profits to the students who are preparing to uproot their lives.

'This is the best way to help'

Imam Abdallah Yousri, worship leader at the Ummah Mosque, said this partnership between the mosque and the students came after he saw how many students were selling their belongings online.

"They're selling their cars, their homes,  their furniture — everything. So we thought this is the best way to help them to do so."

He doesn't know what the best option for these students is in terms of finding ways to stay in Canada, because he said their situation is so complicated.

Imam Abdallah Yousri, worship leader at the Ummah Mosque, said he felt badly for the students who are being forced to leave Canada. (Stephanie Blanchet/Radio-Canada)

"I have no idea what is the best solution for this but I am hoping we get out from all this nonsense and we can solve the problem," said Yousri.

Yoursi said some of the students just arrived in Halifax for the upcoming school year, and are selling brand new belongings that they only bought in the last couple weeks.

"They don't have many choices so they started selling their products and their belongings. We all hope we can find a solution as soon as possible. But I'm not sure if it will happen or not."

This is the second yard sale, the first happened last Friday after prayer.

The students were told to leave by early September.

About the Author

Danielle d'Entremont

Reporter/Editor CBC North

Danielle d'Entremont is a reporter and editor for the CBC in Yellowknife.  Most recently she worked as a national news reader for CBC Toronto, but has also worked for CBC Nova Scotia in her hometown of Halifax. When she isn't chasing stories she is on the search for the best hiking trails around town.