Saudi Arab

First alcohol store to open in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia is set to open its first store serving alcohol, with a focus on catering exclusively to non-Muslim diplomats, as reported by Reuters.

The store, located in the capital city of Riyadh, will implement a registration process through an app, requiring customers to obtain permission from the foreign ministry and adhere to monthly quotas.

Although situated in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter, it remains uncertain if the store will extend its services to non-Muslim expatriates.

This development aligns with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s efforts to modernize Saudi Arabia’s image.

The country, known for its ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam, has seen recent liberalization measures, including the relaxation of laws restricting women, such as lifting the ban on driving.

Alcohol is strictly prohibited under Saudi law, with severe punishments, including public flogging, for violators.

Despite this, a black market exists, and authorities often turn a blind eye to home brewing and alcohol consumption in expatriate compounds.

Notably, Riyadh has seen the opening of bars serving non-alcoholic cocktails, and plans include making alcohol available in the beach resort of Neom, part of the ambitious Vision 2030 plan led by Crown Prince Mohammed to diversify the economy away from fossil fuels and attract foreign tourism and investment.

 

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