Highlights

  • Saudi to open its first booze store
  • Store would be open only for non-Muslim envoys
  • Move comes as Saudi seeks to attract tourism

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Saudi Arabia to open its first alcohol store in Riyadh: report

Saudi Arabia will open its first alcohol store in Riyadh in the coming weeks, as it seeks to attract more tourists and businesses 

Saudi Arabia to open its first alcohol store in Riyadh: report

Saudi Arabia, where alcohol consumption is barred, will reportedly open its first booze store in the capital Riyadh City that would be sold exclusively to non-Muslim diplomats.

Reuters news agency quoting sources said that tipplers will have to register via a mobile app, get a clearance code from the foreign ministry, and respect monthly quotas with their purchases.

The move comes as the ultra-conservative kingdom vies to position itself as an attractive destination for tourists and businesses. It is also part of wider plans known as Vision 2030 to build a post-oil economy.

Reuters report, quoting the documents which has details of the plan, states that the new store would be located in Riyadh's Diplomatic Quarter, a neighbourhood where embassies and diplomats reside and it will be "strictly restricted" to non-Muslims.

However, 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 told Reuters that the store is expected to open in the coming weeks.

Though banned since 1952 under Islamic laws, the sale and consumption of alcohol have been flourishing through the black market.

If found violating the rule, the perpetrator would be punished with hundreds of lashes, deportation, fines, or imprisonment. Expatriates also face deportation. As part of the reforms, whipping has largely been replaced by jail sentences.

(With inputs from Reuters)


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