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.
- Saudi Arabia block Qatari-owned BeIN sports channel amid ongoing blockade
- Gulf Crisis Escalates: UAE, Saudi, Bahrain, Egypt Cut Ties with Qatar
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.
#حظر_PayPal_في_السعودية— غازي العصيمي (@GhaziVCF) August 7, 2017
ماعندي مشكلة مع بي ان واقدر اجدد بالف طريقة وطريقة
لكن باي بال له استخدامات كثير تمنعه عشان قناة ؟!
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.
أصدمني وقل عشان ما نشترك في بي ان !!— MeshAl + (@xkliv) August 7, 2017
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.
حمدالله انا اشتراكي سنه في بي ان سبورت جددت قبل بداية الازمه يالبيه باقي ثلاث ايام على الدوري الإنجليزي#حظر_PayPal_في_السعوديه— türkialamri# (@_skloved) August 7, 2017
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]
#حظر_PayPal_في_السعودية والله لنشترك في بي ان لو نروح ونعطي الخليفي فلوس الاشتراك بيده حتى— 8 (@Rambowales8) August 7, 2017
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]
#حظر_PayPal_في_السعودية— مبارك السهلي (@mubarak_alsahli) August 7, 2017
باقي في اشتراكي ثمان شهور منا إلى ذاك الوقت إن شاء الله يمدي القراصنه دبرو لنا طريقه
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.
#حظر_PayPal_في_السعوديه no more online shopping— Kenny (@hope18_) August 7, 2017
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.”
Yes, PayPal is available in Saudi Arabia. ^IN— PayPal Support (@AskPayPal) August 7, 2017
Some Saudis also denied that there was any issue with the service.
¿¿¿ I just bought stuff like 5 minutes ago ???— Khaled (@Khaled_M_K) August 7, 2017
A mystery: maybe not everything happening in the Middle East right now has to do with the Gulf crisis?
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