Historic change in Saudi Arabia: It will allow the sale of alcoholic beverages to non-Muslim diplomats

Because alcohol is banned in Islam, the issue remains a highly sensitive one in the country where the cities of Mecca and Medina are home to the religion’s holiest sites (AFP)

Saudi Arabia is planning to authorize the sale of alcohol to non-Muslim diplomats for the first time, the agency was told on Wednesday. AFP Two sources familiar with the plan, who revise it strict rules Which rules on alcohol in the conservative country.

Alcohol “will be sold to non-Muslim diplomats,” who Previously, they had to import wine through a diplomatic bag, or official sealed package.One of the sources said.

will be sold In a store in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter, A neighborhood of foreign missions and residences west of the city center,

Access to the store will be limited to those who register in An application known as Diplo App, and a monthly fee will applyAs per document.

Prohibition law has been in force in Saudi Arabia since 1952Shortly afterwards, a son of King Abdulaziz became drunk and in a fit of rage shot and killed a British diplomat.

Rumors have been circulating for years that alcohol would become available in the Gulf kingdom amid a wave of social reforms introduced as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 agenda, including the introduction of co-educational cinemas and music festivals.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Reuters)

A Saudi government statement on Wednesday said authorities were “introducing a new regulatory framework.” Combat illicit trade in narcotic goods and products Received by diplomatic missions.”

The statement said: “The new process will focus on allocating specific quantities of narcotics upon entry into the State to eliminate the previous unregulated process which led to uncontrolled exchange of such goods in the State.”

“The policy will continue to grant and ensure that all diplomats in non-Muslim embassies have access to these products in specific quotas,” he said.

According to the document seen by , access to the Diplomatic Quarters store is “strictly restricted to non-Muslims”. AFP. “Minors under the age of 21 are not permitted to enter” and “Proper clothing is required.”

The document states that those who register on the app will not be able to send family members, drivers, assistants or colleagues to their location.

Use of mobile phones is prohibited in the store.

According to the quota system, people are authorized to access the store They will be able to purchase 240 “points” of alcohol per month. One liter of liquor is priced at six marks, one liter of wine is priced at three marks and one liter of beer is priced at one mark.

Statements from the Saudi government indicate there will be no immediate changes for most of Saudi Arabia’s 32 million people, who have little chance of drinking alcohol unless they are willing to travel abroad.

In addition to attending receptions in the diplomatic quarter, they can make homemade wines or turn to the black market, where bottles of whiskey can cost hundreds of dollars on the eve of holidays like New Year’s.

Cars drive through the King Abdullah financial district in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser)

Vision 2030 aims to transform the world’s largest crude oil exporter into a business, tourism and sports hub, with the foundation of The post-oil economy.

Wednesday’s news comes as Saudi Arabia increasingly competes with its neighbors, especially Dubai (United Arab Emirates), for foreign investment and tourism dollars.

For example, this month, authorities implemented a rule that will require multinational companies to set up their regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia or lose government contracts.

Alcohol is available in countless hotels, restaurants and bars in Dubai. Neighboring Qatar allows alcohol to be served in hotels and licensed restaurants to non-Muslims over the age of 21.

Last year, Saudi Arabia won the rights to host Expo 2030 and the Soccer World Cup in 2034, leading to further speculation that the alcohol ban could be lifted, or at least weakened with exceptions at venues like NEOM which is a $500 billion megacity in the future.

but again alcohol is prohibited in islamThe issue remains a delicate one in a country where the cities of Mecca and Medina are the religion’s holiest sites.

According to Saudi law, Penalties for consumption or possession of alcohol can include fines, prison sentences, public flogging, and deportation for unauthorized aliens.

Until Wednesday, Saudi officials had rejected any suggestion of any major changes to their policy.

When asked directly about the issue at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2022, Princess Haifa Al Saud, Deputy Tourism Minister, said, “The short answer is that we will continue with our existing laws.”

(With information from AFP)

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