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HomeWorldMiddle EastFirst Alcohol Store for Non-Muslim Diplomats in Saudi to be opened

First Alcohol Store for Non-Muslim Diplomats in Saudi to be opened

Reuters cited a source familiar with the plans and a document to suggest that Saudi Arabia is getting set to build its first alcohol store specifically for non-Muslim diplomats. The document that the news agency was able to access states that in order to obtain a clearance quote from the foreign ministry and to adhere to the monthly quotas, clients will be required to register through a mobile application.

The BBC noted that officials mentioned “the illicit trade of alcohol” when they mentioned the plan. After an intoxicated son of King Abdulaziz shot and killed a British envoy in 1952, the country passed a prohibition law.

While the store’s restrictions may not be overly strict, they will nonetheless exist. Reportedly, “proper attire is required” when inside the establishment, and patrons under the age of 21 will not be admitted.

Aside from regulations regarding monthly quotas, drinkers will also be unable to send proxies, such drivers. The BBC also stated that customers will have a monthly limit of 240 “points” for alcohol, where a liter of spirit is worth six points, a liter of wine is for three points, and a liter of beer is worth one point.

It is unclear if regular foreigners without diplomatic privileges would have access to alcohol, according to the BBC article.

Supported by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, this action is perceived as the kingdom’s attempt to open up the country—where alcohol is illegal—to tourists and businesses. This is in line with the broader goals of Vision 2030, which aim to diversify the economy away from its reliance on oil.

Reuters said that the new store would be situated in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter, which is home to embassies and diplomats, and that non-Muslims will be “strictly restricted” from entering. It was not apparent, however, if the business would be accessible to non-Muslim expats.

The store is supposedly set to launch in the next several weeks.

To those who are unaware, Saudi Arabia has very strict laws against drinking, which can result in hundreds of lashing, deportation, fines, or jail time. Expatriates are also subject to expulsion. Reforms, however, have mostly replaced off-late whipping with jail terms. Diplomatic mail and the underground market were the sole sources for alcohol up until now.

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