Was Paypal Blocked in Saudi and is it Related to the Gulf Crisis?

Published August 8th, 2017 - 11:04 GMT
"PayPal blocked in Saudi Arabia" was trending Monday - but was it? (Wikimedia Commons)
"PayPal blocked in Saudi Arabia" was trending Monday - but was it? (Wikimedia Commons)

by Rosie Alfatlawi

What does an apparent block on US company PayPal in Saudi Arabia have to do with the ongoing Gulf Crisis?

Locals claimed late on Monday that the online payment service had gone down and the hashtag “PayPal blocked in Saudi Arabia” took off on Twitter.

People had their own theories as to what was going on:

Qatar-owned BeIN sports was banned in Saudi Arabia after it severed diplomatic ties with Doha on June 5 this year. Saudi Arabia was joined by Bahrain, Egypt and the UAE in imposing a land, air and sea embargo of the tiny Gulf state, which they accused of supporting terrorism.

BeIN receivers were made illegal, while shops found to be renewing subscriptions faced fines.

However, some on Twitter implied that PayPal was being used as a loophole for these restrictions, and that it had been targeted by the authorities for that reason.

I do not have a problem with BeIN and I can renew it in a thousand and one ways. Still, PayPal has many uses, why ban it because of one channel?! Backwardness.

Shock me and say it’s so we don’t sign up for BeIN!

In fact, the PayPal hashtag brought out a lot of anger towards the BeIN ban from Saudi sports fans.

Thank God I renewed by year-long subscription to BeIN before the beginning of the crisis. There's only three days left until the beginning of the English Premier League [season]

I swear let’s subscribe even it means going and putting the subscription money directly into the hand of Al-Khelaifi [Nasser, head of BeIN Media Group]

My subscription has another 8 months on it, let's hope by then the hackers have found a way.

BeIN is the major sports broadcaster in the Middle East, with exclusive rights to broadcast a number of major European football leagues in the region. It is not surprising, then, that football-mad Saudis are upset about ban.

Meanwhile, Saudi shopaholics were annoyed about the rumored suspension of PayPal in the Gulf state.

But, was PayPal even blocked?

PayPal’s Support account on Twitter replied early on Tuesday to a question from a Saudi to say that “PayPal is available in Saudi Arabia.”

Some Saudis also denied that there was any issue with the service.

A mystery: maybe not everything happening in the Middle East right now has to do with the Gulf crisis?

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