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Saudi Arabia to open first alcohol store for diplomats

January 24, 2024 at 2:09 pm

Portraits of Saudi King Salman (R) and his son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) in Riyadh one day before the Future Investment Initiative FII conference that will take place in Riyadh from 23-25 October, on 22 October 2018 [FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images]

Saudi Arabia is preparing to open its first alcohol store in the capital Riyadh, Reuters reported a source familiar with the plans saying.

Customers will have to register via a mobile app, get a clearance code from the Foreign Ministry, and respect monthly quotas with their purchases, a document related to the plans said. The shop will only serve non-Muslim diplomats.

The move comes as part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, which sees it expanding its economy and reducing its dependence on the petrodollar.

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.

Alcohol has been available only through diplomatic mail or on the black market in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government did not respond to a request for comment.

State-controlled media reported this week that the government was imposing new restrictions on alcohol imports within the diplomatic consignments, which may boost demand for the new store.

The new regulation will curb imports to counter “improper exchange of special goods and alcoholic beverages received by the embassies of non-Muslim countries inside Saudi Arabia”, Arab News Daily reported on Sunday.

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