Saudia: You get WhatsApp, you get WhatsApp, everybody gets WhatsApp

Saudia had us at free. Source: Shutterstock.

SAUDI ARABIA is really ramping up its tourism promotional efforts of late.

From announcing looser visa restrictions to opening its first public cinema in over 35 years to naming 25 archaeological sites across the kingdom, the ultra-conservative country seems to be pulling out all stops to meet its “30 million visitors in the next 12 years” end goal.

But it’s not just the destination that they care about, it’s also the journey.

Saudi Arabia’s national carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) quietly announced they’re giving passengers free access to WhatsApp during flights.

The offer will enable passengers to send messages while the plane is in the air on all the airline’s domestic flights and a handful of international destinations: Dubai, London, Manchester, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Toronto, Madrid, and Paris.

Just a couple of things to note, though.

Passengers can only send text messages for free, which means no pictures, voice calls, or video calls.

And for flights to Dubai, London, Manchester, New York, Washington And Los Angeles, the free WhatsApp service is only good for 20 minutes. Passengers will have to pay SR9.49 (US$2.53) per hour after the 20 minutes timeframe is up.