Saudi Arabia to allow sale of alcohol to non-Muslim diplomats: Sources

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia plans to allow the sale of alcohol to non-Muslim diplomats for the first time, two sources familiar with the plan told AFP on Jan 24.

Alcohol “will be sold to non-Muslim diplomats” who previously had to import alcohol via a diplomatic pouch, one of the sources said.

Customers will have to register via a mobile app, get a clearance code from the foreign ministry, and respect monthly quotas with their purchases, said the document, which was seen by Reuters.

Prohibition has been the law of the land in Saudi Arabia since 1952, shortly after one of King Abdulaziz’s sons got drunk and, in a rage, shot dead a British diplomat.

Rumours have swirled 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 reform agenda, which includes the introduction of cinemas and mixed-gender music festivals.

The new store is located in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter, a neighbourhood where embassies and diplomats reside, and will be “strictly restricted” to non-Muslims, the document said.

It was unclear if other non-Muslim expatriates will have access to the store. Millions of expatriates live in Saudi Arabia but most of them are Muslim workers from Asia and Egypt.

A source familiar with the plans said the store is expected to open in the coming weeks.

A Saudi government statement on Jan 24 said the authorities were introducing “a new regulatory framework… to counter the illicit trade of alcohol goods and products received by diplomatic missions”.

The statement added: “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.”

The rules in place until now leave most of Saudi Arabia’s 32 million people with few ways to imbibe.

Beyond attending diplomatic receptions, they can make home-made wine or turn to the black market, where bottles of whisky can go for hundreds of dollars ahead of holidays like New Year’s Eve.

Under Saudi law, penalties for consumption or possession of alcohol can include fines, jail time, public flogging and deportation for foreigners. AFP, REUTERS

EMEA Tribune is not involved in this news article, it is taken from our partners and or from the News Agencies. Copyright and Credit go to the News Agencies, email [email protected] Follow our WhatsApp verified Channel210520-twitter-verified-cs-70cdee.jpg (1500×750)

Support Independent Journalism with a donation (Paypal, BTC, USDT, ETH)