Riyadh: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is all set to open its first alcohol store in the capital Riyadh, exclusively for non-Muslim diplomats.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that a store will be opened in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter and will be “strictly restricted” to non-Muslims. It is anticipated to open in the upcoming weeks.
The customers will need to register via an app called Diplo, obtain permission from the foreign ministry, and adhere to monthly quotas, the report said.
The store strictly prohibits visitors under 21, from photography, and mobile phone use, requiring them to be kept in secure pouches, CNBC reported.
Confirming the report, Saudi Arabia’s government on Wednesday spoke to the Kingdom’s media organisation that it was imposing new restrictions on alcohol imports within diplomatic consignments.
The Center of International Communication (CIC) said the new regulations had been introduced to combat the illicit trade of alcohol goods and products received by diplomatic missions, Reuters reported.
“This new process will continue to grant and ensure that all diplomats of non-Muslim embassies have access to these products in specified quotas,” the statement read.
The statement did not mention the planned alcohol store but stated that the new framework complied with international diplomatic conventions.
This marks a significant shift in conservative cultural values, which have banned possession or sale of alcohol since 1952 and can result in imprisonment, fines, or even flogging.
This move is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He overturned a ban onactivities like women driving, movie theaters, and concerts, while also addressing dissent and imprisoning political activists.