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Saudi Arabia opens its first alcohol shop in more than 70 years

22:30, Thursday, 25 January, 2024
Saudi Arabia opens its first alcohol shop in more than 70 years

For the first time in over 70 years, a shop selling alcohol has opened in Saudi Arabia, a diplomat revealed on Wednesday. The move marks another step towards social liberalisation in the kingdom home to the holiest sites in Islam.

While exclusively catering to non-Muslim diplomats, the store, situated in Riyadh's Diplomatic Quarter, aligns with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious plans to transform Saudi Arabia into a thriving tourism and business hub, diversifying the economy away from its reliance on crude oil.

The diplomat, who spoke anonymously to AP due to the sensitivity of the subject in Saudi Arabia, visited the store and likened its ambiance to that of an upscale duty-free shop at a major international airport. The store currently offers liquor, wine, and only two types of beer for the time being. Customers are required to show their diplomatic identifications, and mobile phones must be placed inside pouches while inside. A mobile phone app allows purchases on an allotment system, the diplomat said.

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