Saudi Arabia plans to permit alcohol gross sales to non-Muslim diplomats for the primary time, two sources accustomed to the plan instructed AFP on Wednesday, altering strict guidelines governing alcohol within the conservative nation .

The alcohol “shall be offered to non-Muslim diplomats” who beforehand needed to import alcohol by way of a diplomatic bag, or an official sealed package deal, one of many sources mentioned.

The ban has been the legislation of the land in Saudi Arabia since 1952, shortly after one among King Abdulaziz's sons acquired drunk and killed a British diplomat in a rage.

Rumors have swirled for years that alcohol will grow to be accessible within the Gulf kingdom amid a wave of social reforms launched as a part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Imaginative and prescient 2030 reform agenda, amongst them the 'introduction of cinema and blended music pageant.

A Saudi authorities assertion on Wednesday mentioned authorities have launched “a brand new regulatory framework … to counter the illicit commerce in items and alcohol merchandise obtained by diplomatic missions.”

The assertion added: “The brand new course of will give attention to the allocation of particular portions of alcohol items when coming into the Kingdom to place an finish to the earlier unregulated course of that prompted an uncontrolled alternate of such items within the Kingdom.”

The coverage “will proceed to grant and be sure that all diplomats of non-Muslim embassies have entry to those merchandise in specified quotas.”

The assertion indicated that not a lot would change instantly for the overwhelming majority of Saudi Arabia's 32 million individuals, who’ve few methods to imbibe except they’re keen to journey overseas.

Along with attending diplomatic receptions in Riyadh's Diplomatic Quarter, they’ll make selfmade wine or flip to the black market, the place bottles of whiskey can go for tons of of {dollars} earlier than holidays like New Yr's Eve once more

Delicate topic

Beneath Saudi legislation, penalties for consuming or possessing alcohol can embody fines, jail time, public flogging and deportation for foreigners.

Final yr, Saudi Arabia was awarded internet hosting rights for Expo 2030 and the World Cup in 2034, additional fueling hypothesis that the alcohol ban could possibly be lifted, or not less than weakened with carve- outs in locations like NEOM, a deliberate $500 billion futuristic megacity.

However on condition that alcohol is forbidden in Islam, the issue stays very delicate within the nation that hosts probably the most sacred websites of the faith within the cities of Mecca and Medina.

Saudi officers had till Wednesday dropped hints of any main coverage change.

“The quick reply is, we're going to proceed with our present legal guidelines,” Deputy Tourism Minister Princess Haifa Al Saud mentioned when requested immediately concerning the concern on the World Financial Discussion board in Davos in 2022. .


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