Saudi Arabia to Open First Alcohol Store in Riyadh Exclusively for Non-Muslim Diplomats

Alcohol Store in Riyadh

In a groundbreaking move, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is preparing to open its inaugural alcohol store in the capital city of Riyadh, exclusively catering to non-Muslim diplomats. A source with knowledge of the matter revealed to Reuters that the establishment will be situated in Riyadh’s diplomatic quarter and will be “strictly restricted” to non-Muslims. The anticipated opening is slated for the upcoming weeks, marking a notable departure from the conservative norms that have long prohibited the possession and sale of alcohol within the kingdom.

According to reports, customers seeking to patronize the store will be required to register through a designated mobile application named Diplo. Furthermore, they must obtain explicit permission from the foreign ministry and adhere to predetermined monthly quotas. CNBC disclosed additional regulations, stating that the store will enforce a strict age restriction, barring individuals under the age of 21. Moreover, stringent guidelines will prohibit photography and the use of mobile phones within the premises, with visitors required to store their devices in secure pouches.

This landmark development signifies a significant shift in Saudi Arabia’s cultural landscape, which has historically upheld stringent prohibitions on alcohol consumption dating back to 1952. Violations of these laws could lead to severe penalties, including imprisonment, substantial fines, or even corporal punishment.

The decision to introduce an alcohol store aligns with Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Under his leadership, the kingdom has undertaken sweeping reforms aimed at modernizing various facets of society. These reforms have included lifting the ban on activities such as women driving, the reopening of movie theaters, and the hosting of public concerts. Simultaneously, however, the government has faced criticism for its crackdown on dissent and the detention of political activists.

The forthcoming alcohol store for non-Muslim diplomats represents both a symbolic and practical step towards accommodating the diverse needs of the diplomatic community within Saudi Arabia. As the kingdom continues to navigate its path towards socio-economic transformation, this move underscores the complexities inherent in balancing tradition with progress in a rapidly evolving global landscape.

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