Saudi Arabia to announce the abolition of the legal ban on alcohol

The Saudi authorities tend to announce the abolition of the legal ban imposed on alcohol under the guise of stimulating tourism, attracting stars, talents and businessmen to continue its economic prosperity.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia witnessed an economic boom due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine due to the rise in crude oil prices and the redirection of global flows of goods and capital.

Last year, oil prices rose above $120 a barrel, and the Gulf state and the UAE became a magnet for global wealth, as it does not refuse income taxes.

But after oil prices fell and traded at about $76, Saudi Arabia is looking for ways to continue to thrive, liberalizing its economy through more flexible tourism policies and fewer Islamic laws.

The newspaper stated that it is expected that Saudi Arabia will soon abolish the ban imposed on alcohol after it introduced social reforms in the past years.

The Kingdom has already allowed women to drive and unrelated men and women to mix in public places after that was forbidden.

It is also seeking to attract tourists after establishing a new airline to compete with the successful carriers in the region.

The Saudi authorities remained silent on what was revealed by international media reports regarding their plan to sell alcoholic beverages exempt from customs at local airports, despite the controversy that this raised.

According to Arabian Business, citing unnamed sources, the plans will see limited sales of alcohol, initially to international transit passengers, at select airports, while trying to meet strict requirements that the deal will only be available to travellers to specific destinations.

The sources said that no final decision had been taken, but the consultation process is underway with the main stakeholders.

This is supported by what was revealed by the “Wall Street Journal” newspaper last month: Saudi Arabia plans to allow a beach resort in its giant project, NEOM, to serve alcoholic beverages.

The beach resort on the Red Sea island of Sindala is set to open as soon as next year and is expected to offer a good wine bar, a separate cocktail bar and a “champagne and dessert” bar, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing documents dated January.

The Wall Street Journal said, according to the planning document, that Sindalah “will launch from the Red Sea as a new destination for superyachts and attract some of the world’s richest and most influential people.”

It stated that the plan also included a retail wine shop within the resort.

The word “alcohol” wasn’t in the planning documents, but WSJ sources said Project Sindala plans to sell alcoholic beverages.

Sindala Island is about 5 kilometres from the mainland, with an area of approximately 840,000 square metres.

In September 2018, according to the newspaper, NEOM organized a consumer survey in which 97 per cent of expatriate respondents from Singapore and Hong Kong and 95 per cent from the US, UK, and France said that having alcohol was an “important motivator for moving to NEOM.”

NEOM also asked international hotel groups about the same, and one of the anonymous comments said: “Having a liquor license is essential to the hotel’s success.”

And on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a controversial poll was previously launched in the Kingdom about the sale of alcoholic beverages, in another way to pave the way for spreading corruption and decadence in it.

An opinion poll launched by the “Saudi Polls” account, via Twitter, regarding allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages in the Kingdom sparked controversy and reactions, demanding the closure of the history and the transfer of those in charge of it to the Public Prosecution.

And the survey published by the account stated: “What do you think of allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages in the Kingdom through duty-free shops only at international airports?”

Saudi singers expressed their anger at the idea of asking such a question in a Muslim country, forbidding everything related to alcoholic beverages, as well as this country’s care for the Two Holy Mosques and the privacy of the matter.

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