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First Liquor Store in Riyadh in 70 Years: Saudi Arabia to Open Shop Selling Alcohol for Non-Muslim Foreigners


Saudi Arabia will open a shop in Riyadh selling alcoholic drinks to non-Muslim foreigners the first store to open in the last 70 years.

Customers will be limited to diplomatic staff, who have been importing liquor in officially closed packaging known as diplomatic bags.

Saudi Arabian officials said the aim of opening the store was a solution to the “illicit trade in alcohol”.

The ban on selling alcoholic drinks has been officially enforced in Saudi since 1952 through a law.

This decision was taken after one of King Abdulaziz’s children became drunk from drinking alcohol, then shot dead a British diplomat.

AFPPolish tourists listen to a guide while visiting the King Abdulaziz museum in Masmak in the old area of ​​the Saudi capital, Riyadh, October 17, 2019.

The new shop selling alcohol will be located in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter west of the city centre, documents seen by the news agency show AFP and Reuters.

A source familiar with the plans told Reuters that the store is expected to open in the next few weeks.

However, there will be a number of limitations. among others:

  • Foreigners who wish to consume alcoholic beverages must register first and obtain permission from the Saudi government.
  • No one under the age of 21 will be permitted inside stores that sell alcohol and “wear appropriate clothing” while inside.
  • Prospective buyers will not be able to send alcoholic drinks via delivery services.
  • There are restrictions on consuming alcohol each month, the statement said.

AFP A number of Saudi women walk inside the ‘Faysalia’ mall in the city of Riyadh, September 26 2011.

But according to documents seen by the news agency AFP these regulations will not be too strict.

Customers will be limited to 240 alcohol “points” per month.

A liter of spirits is worth six points, a liter of wine is worth three points, and a liter of beer is worth one point.

There was also no mention that the liquor store’s clientele would extend to “ordinary” foreigners without diplomatic rights in the country, who officially have no access to alcohol.

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AFPPhoto taken on September 9, 2022 shows the view on the Taylia road in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Although alcohol will be a part of life in Riyadh, consumers should be careful where they drink and how they behave afterwards.

Under current Saudi regulations, penalties for consuming or possessing alcohol can include fines, prison sentences, public flogging and deportation for unauthorized foreigners.

The document also said authorities were planning a “new regulatory framework” that would allow “certain quantities” of alcohol to be carried by diplomats to “end the uncontrolled smuggling of such goods”, it added.

AFP A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate their first time driving on the main road of Khobar City on their way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018.

For years diplomatic staff had to use their “diplomatic pockets”, which the authorities in Saudi Arabia could not touch. The bags are used, among other things, to carry limited quantities of alcoholic beverages.

However, Saudi’s decision to open alcoholic beverage stores is the latest step in a series of initiatives known as “Vision 2030”.

This vision aims to liberalize Saudi society under the country’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman.

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Other Gulf countries have implemented similar rules.

However, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar also allow the sale of alcohol to non-Muslims over the age of 21 in hotels, clubs and bars.

There is no indication from Saudi documents that the government there is considering doing the same.

Although alcohol is prohibited in Islam, Saudi Arabia did not ban its presence until 1952.

This changed after Mishari bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, a prince, shot dead Cyril Ousman, the British Deputy Consul in Jeddah, in 1951 for refusing to pour him another drink at an event.

A year later, King Abdulaziz imposed a total ban on alcohol. Mishari was later convicted of murder.

Also read ‘When Indonesian Migrant Workers in Arabia Chant the Koran – Pray Together for Ganjar-Mahfud’:


2024-01-30 07:21:29
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