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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 27 March 2019

beIN Sports blocked in the UAE as diplomatic row with Qatar deepens

The Qatari broadcaster with exclusive rights to the English Premier League is not available on either Etisalat or du networks.
The television channel BeIN Sports has been blocked in the UAE.  AFP
The television channel BeIN Sports has been blocked in the UAE. AFP

DUBAI // Qatari broadcasters beIN Sports and Al Jazeera have been blocked in the UAE after a diplomatic stand-off between the countries came to a head.

The sports channels and news channels were off air from Monday night as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt cut ties with Qatar over the state’s links to terror groups.

BeIN has the sole rights in the Middle East to broadcast the English Premier League, La Liga in Spain and tournaments such as the World Cup, and the political row has put a question mark over Qatar’s ability to host the football World Cup as planned in 2022.

Access to the websites of both beIN and Al Jazeera also appear to have been blocked.

“I think it got blocked sometime on Monday,” said Philip Johnstone, from the UK, who subscribes to Etisalat’s eLife package.

“I was just channel surfing and noticed that beIN Sports had gone off-air. I also checked Al Jazeera and that was blocked as well.

“I called Etisalat and there was an automated response saying the channels were unavailable for technical reasons.”

Another Etisalat customer, who did not wish to be identified, said it was unfair that subscribers had been drawn into a political dispute.

“It’s frustrating that people who have paid to have these channels can no longer access them through no fault of their own,” he said.

“Etisalat haven’t been helpful at all about the situation.

“If this situation persists, I don’t see why people should have to pay for something we aren’t getting.

“When I called Etisalat the guy on the other end was doing all he could to stop me from cancelling the package.

“I’ll give it a few more days but if this continues over the summer then there’s no point keeping the package. I can always get it again once it’s up and running again.”

One Etisalat customer said that customer care staff were refusing to refund the Dh90 a month he pays for the beIN sports package but did not have a valid explanation for doing so.

Another subscriber said more people would have complained if the channels had been blocked during the football season.

“Can you imagine what would have happened if this took place a few months ago?” he asked.

“I think also because people are heading away from the UAE during the summer there is less of an outcry but I’m definitely not happy about it.

“But even with that being said, Etisalat and Du should not charge their customers for channels they aren’t able to provide.”

The UAE’s airspace and seaports have also been closed to Qatari traffic, and the UAE has given Qatari nationals 14 days to leave the country.

Qataris will not be allowed to enter or transit through the UAE and Emiratis are also prevented from travelling to or through Qatar.

In a statement, du said: “We would like to confirm the services of beIN Sports are currently suspended. Our customer service teams will be in touch with all affected customers.”

Etisalat and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority have not yet responded to requests for comment.

nhanif@thenational.ae

Updated: June 6, 2017 04:00 AM

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