Yesterday, I read an incredible piece on a news website. This was not the only site that published this. Several local and international (some of them quite famous) were carrying this news.
Saudi Man Accidentally Buys 2 Airbus A350s
So the story goes like this. A citizen of Saudi Arabia was looking for miniaturized models of Airbus A350s for his son. This was supposed to be a birthday present as the child was a fan of aviation. The parent, who has not been named in any news article, called Airbus and asked for model planes.
Apparently, there was a lot of confusion over the call. The Airbus representative and the Saudi man spoke different languages and got lost in technical details of the aircraft. Finally, they agreed on a price – $365 million. The ‘buyer’ got lost in currency exchange and thought that the model planes were ‘expensive yet reasonable’. He paid the amount with his American Express card.
A few days later, Airbus called the man to confirm that the planes were ready for delivery. They asked who would be flying the planes. The man thought it was a joke. Later, when he realized that he bought real planes he decided to keep it. He gifted one to his cousin and kept one for himself.
This Did Not Happen
There are so many things wrong with this story.
First, let us look at the source itself. The story was published in satire website Thin Air Today on August 15, 2019. How and why this piece got traction 10 days later is something only the Gods of Internet can explain. While Thin Air does not explicitly mentions this article as a satire, it has a big clue at the bottom of its home page.
Some of the other articles published on the website are
- Airbus: Siri will replace autopilot and new cockpit gets 12MP selfie-camera for pilots.
- London gets world’s first underground airport
- Hong Kong airport will be moved to mainland China
Second, the article describe the ‘buyer’ as an investor in Saudi energy sector. Saudi Rial has a fixed conversion rate with US$ and any investor (particularly someone who can spend $350 million over a phone call) is unlikely to get ‘lost in currency exchange’.
Finally, we all know American Express offers no-limit cards. However, I seriously doubt it would let you spend $365 million on it.
Why did so many people fall for this fake news? I bet it is something to do with the perception of Saudi Arabia being oil rich. While the country has substantial oil reserves, not all of its citizens are crazy rich. In fact, the GDP per capita of Saudi Arabia is ranked 43rd in the world.
What did you think of the story?