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Saudi Arabia reportedly ends beIN blackout

Qatar’s beIN Sports was broadcast in Saudi Arabia on Monday for the first time in more than three years.

The broadcaster had been the target of a Saudi state-sponsored piracy campaign dubbed beoutQ amid tensions between the nations and a trade blockade on Qatar. The Kingdom’s General Authority for Competition (GAC) also permanently cancelled beIN’s broadcast licence in July 2020, following a temporary ban which had been in place since mid-2017.

However, with tensions between Qatar and its Arab neighbours easing, a Reuters report claims that the channel was being broadcast in Saudi Arabia earlier this week. It cites eyewitness testimony of witnesses who said that several cafes and restaurants in the capital city Riyadh were using satellite dishes to show the English Premier League to patrons on beIN channels.

The broadcaster however told the newswire that nothing “has materially changed as far as we are aware at this stage,” and that the website is still fully blocked in the country. The spokesperson said that beIN had “received no official communication” to indicate that its licence had been reinstated.

The spokesperson added: “However, like everyone, we are hopeful of positive moves by Saudi to allow beIN operations back in the country after 3.5 years. We await to see.”