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Saudi Arabia prepares to open first alcohol store for diplomats

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DE Online Desk
The store will serve exclusively non-Muslim diplomats. To access liquor, customers will have to register via a mobile app, get a clearance code from the foreign ministry, and respect monthly quotas with their purchases.
Saudi Arabia, which has been doing away with some of its stricter social norms under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is preparing to open its first alcohol store in the capital city of Riyadh, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The store will serve exclusively non-Muslim diplomats. To access liquor, customers will have to register via a mobile app, get a clearance code from the foreign ministry, and respect monthly quotas with their purchases.
Drinking alcohol is forbidden in Islam. In Saudi Arabia, drinking alcohol is punishable by hundreds of lashes, deportation, fines, or imprisonment.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who assumed power in June 2017, has been making efforts to open the conservative Kingdom for tourism and business.
In 2016, Saudi Arabia launched its Vision 2030 under which it pledges to make the Kingdom – “a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation”. Reuters reported that this alcohol store is also part of the Vision 2030 to build a post-oil economy.
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 as per the news agency. 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.
Saudi Arabia, which was relatively closed off for decades, has in recent years relaxed strict social codes, such as segregating men and women in public places and requiring women to wear all-covering black robes, or abayas.
In December 2017, Saudi Arabia lifted a 35-year ban on commercial theaters. In that same year, the Kingdom also ended a ban on women drivers, allowed women to attend sporting events, and expand their participation in the workforce.

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