KSA rings in joy, lifts WhatsApp call ban

Updated 07 February 2016

KSA rings in joy, lifts WhatsApp call ban

JEDDAH: Users of WhatsApp were a joyous lot on Saturday as the call facility finally became available on the popular messaging service in the Kingdom.
The facility, which is for free now, through WhatsApp was earlier banned in Saudi Arabia and only messaging service was available. “The ban has been lifted in the Kingdom,” said local media on Saturday.
Riyadh-based software engineer Faisal Haleem termed it a good initiative which will “help open up the telecom market and bring the rates down for both local and international calls.”
Sultan Abdullah, a student at King Abdul Aziz University, said: “I heard about the free call facility through my friend on WhatsApp. I tried and it was indeed working.”
In the past, he said, every time you tried to call someone via WhatsApp, a standard voice message would tell you that this service is not available in your country.
Mirza Abdul Muqeet, a Pakistani expat in Jeddah, welcomed the news. “In this day and age when such free apps are available, it was painful to spend huge amounts on telephone bills,” he said. “I would run bills in hundreds of riyals calling my relatives in Karachi.”
He claimed that telephone call rates are among the highest in Saudi Arabia and thanked the Saudi authorities for the move.
A few months ago, WhatsApp had issued a statement on its website that read: “Unfortunately, the WhatsApp Calls service is not available in all countries due to local laws and regulations.”
The statement continued: “If you are in any of these countries, you will not be able to make or receive these calls, and if you are in a country that offers the WhatsApp Calls service, you will not be able to call users located in countries that do not offer the service.”
Meanwhile, the CITC, telecom regulatory authority in the Kingdom, did not confirm whether the call facility is temporary or permanent.


Feminism not criminalized in Saudi Arabia, says Presidency of State Security

Updated 2 min 22 sec ago

Feminism not criminalized in Saudi Arabia, says Presidency of State Security

  • "Extremism concept" promotional video which was broadcast earlier this week
  • The presidency clarified that the story was untrue

RIYADH: The Presidency of State Security has issued a clarification concerning the "extremism concept" promotional video which was broadcast by the General Department for Counter-Extremism.
In a statement, the presidency said that the video's content was inaccurate and contained many mistakes in defining extremism.
It was noted that the person who prepared and published the video acted wrongly and on his own behalf. According to the official statement, the person was brought in for investigation and steps were taken to deal with the social media in order to ensure that such mistakes were not made again.
The presidency also pointed out the erroneous article published on Nov. 11 in Al-Watan newspaper which said "heavy punishment will be imposed on feminists, including jail time and flogging."
The presidency clarified that the story was untrue, pointing out that it was not a regulatory or judicial body as stipulated by the Statute of Governance and other statutes. The presidency has taken the necessary legal action with the relevant authorities against Al-Watan newspaper regarding the incorrect report it published.
In a tweet on Tuesday, the Saudi Human Rights Commission confirmed that feminism was not criminalized in Saudi Arabia and that the Kingdom accorded the greatest importance to women's rights.
The commission noted the fundamental strides taken for the empowerment of women which have granted them their complete rights.