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Updated January 24th, 2024 at 19:26 IST

Saudi Arabia To Open First Alcohol Store For Non-Muslim Diplomats: Report

Saudi Arabia is set to inaugurate its inaugural alcohol store in the capital city, Riyadh, exclusively catering to non-Muslim diplomats, according to reports.

Manasvi Asthana
Saudi Arabia is set to inaugurate its inaugural alcohol store in the capital city, Riyadh, exclusively catering to non-Muslim diplomats, according to reports.
Saudi Arabia is set to inaugurate its inaugural alcohol store in the capital city, Riyadh, exclusively catering to non-Muslim diplomats, according to reports. | Image:AP
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Saudi Arabia is set to inaugurate its inaugural alcohol store in the capital city, Riyadh, exclusively catering to non-Muslim diplomats, according to reports. Customers will need to register via a mobile app, acquire a clearance code from the foreign ministry and adhere to monthly purchase quotas, as detailed in the document.

Tourism and economic transformation

This development signifies a significant milestone in Saudi Arabia's initiatives, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to open the traditionally conservative Muslim country for tourism and business. The move is part of broader plans, known as Vision 2030, aimed at building a post-oil economy.

Location of the store

The newly established store is situated in Riyadh's Diplomatic Quarter, a region predominantly inhabited by embassies and diplomats. The facility will be "strictly restricted" to non-Muslims, according to the document. It remains uncertain whether other non-Muslim expatriates in Saudi Arabia will have access to the store.

Changes in Alcohol regulations

A source familiar with the plans has indicated that the store is expected to open in the coming weeks. Historically, strict laws against alcohol consumption in Saudi Arabia have resulted in punitive measures such as lashes, deportation, fines, or imprisonment. The recent reforms have shifted towards jail sentences rather than corporal punishment. Previously, alcohol in the country was only available through diplomatic mail or the black market.

Impact of new alcohol import restrictions and government response

Recent reports suggest that the government is implementing new restrictions on alcohol imports within diplomatic consignments, potentially driving demand for the upcoming store. The new regulation aims to curb improper exchanges of alcoholic beverages within non-Muslim embassies in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has not responded to requests for comments on these developments.

Social reforms and vision 2030

Saudi Arabia, once relatively closed off, has witnessed a series of social reforms in recent years, including the relaxation of strict codes segregating men and women and permitting women to drive. Crown Prince Mohammed's governance has been marked by a focus on non-religious tourism, cultural events like concerts, while also cracking down on dissent and political opposition.

Vision 2030, a comprehensive reform plan, encompasses the development of local industries, logistics hubs and aims to create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Saudi nationals. The opening of an alcohol store aligns with the broader economic transformation goals outlined in Vision 2030.

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Published January 24th, 2024 at 19:26 IST

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