In a historic move, Saudi Arabia has officially announced its decision to allow the sale of alcohol to non-Muslim diplomats within the kingdom, marking a significant departure from the country’s long-standing prohibition on alcohol since 1952. This groundbreaking decision represents a major shift in the conservative nation’s policies and aligns with the broader social reforms initiated under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030.
Previously, non-Muslim diplomats were required to import alcohol using diplomatic pouches, but the new policy allows them the freedom to purchase alcoholic beverages locally. The Saudi government released a statement on Wednesday introducing a new regulatory framework specifically designed to address the illicit trade of alcohol goods received by diplomatic missions.
The focus of this regulatory overhaul is to allocate specific quantities of alcohol goods upon entry into the Kingdom, replacing the previous unregulated process that led to an uncontrolled exchange of such goods within the country.
Rumors regarding the potential availability of alcohol in Saudi Arabia have circulated for years, coinciding with a series of progressive reforms aimed at modernizing the nation. These reforms include the introduction of cinemas, mixed-gender music festivals, and various measures to diversify the Saudi economy.
The prohibition on alcohol in Saudi Arabia had limited options for its 32 million residents, forcing them to either attend diplomatic receptions or resort to making homemade wine. The black market for alcohol, particularly before events like New Year’s Eve, saw prices soaring to hundreds of dollars. Under Saudi law, strict penalties, including fines, imprisonment, public flogging, and deportation for foreigners, are imposed for the consumption or possession of alcohol.
The decision to allow the sale of alcohol to non-Muslim diplomats is anticipated to have wide-reaching implications, contributing to the transformation of Saudi Arabia’s societal norms and fostering a more open and tolerant atmosphere.
Source: Channels TV
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