Saudi Arabia set to open first alcohol store, serving only diplomats

Saudi Arabia is set to open the nation’s first liquor retailer, catering solely to diplomats, breaking with many years of strict alcohol prohibition within the kingdom.

A supply knowledgeable Reuters that the shop will likely be opened within the capital Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter, and can be “strictly restricted” to non-Muslims.

The retailer is anticipated to open within the coming weeks.

Since it was formally prohibited in 1952, the dominion has strictly banned alcoholic drinks within the nation, with out even the restricted exceptions made by some in any other case teetotal neighbouring Gulf states such because the UAE and Qatar.

While underground consumption of alcohol at all times existed within the nation (with international officers typically buying it via diplomatic pouches) the brand new retailer marks the first authorized gross sales of alcoholic drinks – a transfer doubtless to anger many conservative Muslims who view consumption as prohibited by Islamic teachings.

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The transfer comes within the wake of laws introduced over the weekend by native media geared toward curbing the “improper exchange” of alcohol between diplomatic residences.

A Saudi authorities assertion on Wednesday mentioned the authorities had been introducing “a new regulatory framework…to counter the illicit trade of alcohol goods and products received by diplomatic missions”.

“The new process will focus on allocating specific quantities of alcohol goods when entering the Kingdom to put an end to the previous unregulated process that caused an uncontrolled exchange of such goods in the Kingdom.”

Decades of prohibition

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been eager to push quite a lot of social reforms within the kingdom as a part of his much-touted Saudi 2030 Vision.

He overturned a ban on girls driving in 2018 and has allowed public live shows and the proliferation of cinemas, at the same time as he imposed a widespread crackdown on each liberal and conservative critics inside the kingdom and stifled dissent.

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However, regardless of rumours, there had been quite a few public pushbacks on any suggestion of overturning the 72-year alcohol ban.

The 1952 ban got here in response to an incident involving Prince Mishari bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and a British diplomat, Cyril Ousman.

At a celebration hosted by the diplomat, then British vice-consul in Jeddah, the 19-year-old prince shot Ousman useless after he refused to serve him extra alcohol.

Following the killing – which noticed Prince Mishari sentenced to life imprisonment – King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, founding father of the fashionable Saudi state, banned all alcohol within the nation.

People convicted of consuming alcohol in Saudi Arabia may beforehand be served with fines, jail time, public flogging and deportation for foreigners.

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