Saudi Arabia is making preparations to launch its inaugural alcohol store in Riyadh, the capital city. The store will exclusively cater to non-Muslim diplomats, marking a significant development in the country’s efforts to expand its tourism and business sectors.
Registration Process and Quotas
Customers intending to purchase from the store must register through a mobile app, obtain a clearance code from the foreign ministry, and adhere to monthly purchase quotas, according to a document outlining the plans.
Key Driver – Vision 2030 and Economic Diversification
This move aligns with Vision 2030, an initiative led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy beyond oil. The opening of an alcohol store signifies the country’s commitment to attracting tourists and businesses, given that consuming alcohol is prohibited in Islam.
Location and Restrictions
Situated in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter, an area housing embassies and diplomats, the store will be strictly limited to non-Muslims, as outlined in the document. It remains unclear if other non-Muslim expatriates in the country will have access to the store.
Timeline for Opening
A source familiar with the plans mentioned that the store is expected to open in the coming weeks.
Stringent Alcohol Laws and Reforms
Saudi Arabia has historically maintained strict laws against alcohol consumption, with punishments ranging from lashes to deportation and imprisonment. Recent reforms have seen a shift towards replacing corporal punishment with jail sentences.
Diplomatic Consignments and Alcohol Imports
Recent reports indicate that the Saudi government is imposing new restrictions on alcohol imports within diplomatic consignments. This move may boost demand for the upcoming alcohol store.
Societal Changes and Prince Mohammed’s Reforms
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has relaxed stringent social codes, including gender segregation and dress requirements. These changes, accompanied by initiatives like allowing non-religious tourism, concerts, and women driving, are part of broader reforms led by Crown Prince Mohammed.
Vision 2030’s Holistic Approach
Vision 2030 not only focuses on social reforms but also includes plans for developing local industries, logistics hubs, and creating job opportunities for Saudi nationals on a large scale.