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Saudi Arabia Will Allow Alcohol, Wine and Champagne?

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Saudi Arabia Will Allow Alcohol, Wine and Champagne?
Saudi Arabia Will Allow Alcohol, Wine and Champagne? Saudi Arabia plans to allow the sale of alcohol, wine, cocktails and champagne by serving it at a new resort slated to open next year.

Citing planning documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal and sources familiar with the project, the paper reported that in addition to alcohol, the resort will also sell wine, cocktails and champagne.

This marks the first time alcohol has been allowed to be sold in an Islamic empire, where currently, the possession and sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited. Violators will be punished with imprisonment, fines, or even caning.

The resort, citing the Times of Israel, Thursday (22/9/2022), is located on the island of Sindahlah which is part of the Neom Red Sea. This is done as an effort by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MSB) to diversify the economy of the oil-dependent country.

The island will feature a premium wine bar, a cocktail bar and a champagne and dessert bar, according to planning documents seen by the Wall Street Journal. Sources said that it is also planned to procure a wine shop, marina and golf course.

The island is located just a few miles from Egypt's Sharm El Sheikh Resort, where alcohol is served.

Pictures seen in June's master plan show a bartender pouring cocktails over bottles of vodka, whiskey and wine as guests enjoy chilled bottles of champagne.

Other images also show women in bikinis and topless men, an unusual sight for a country with a conservative monarchy.

Although the word 'alcohol' is not clearly stated in the planning document, other sources close to the Neom project confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that Sindalah will sell alcoholic beverages.

For Economic Reforms?
Prince MBS is known as the prince who brought about economic and cultural reforms aimed at attracting foreign tourists and business people to stay in the country.

Neom is part of a trillion dollar tourism strategy to make Saudi Arabia a global destination. MBS sees the project to prevent local residents from shopping in other countries and also to create a new alternative economic sector from oil.

A consumer survey from 2018 showed that among expatriates from various countries, more than 95 percent stated that alcohol was an important aspect for them as they considered moving to the city.

However, it is still uncertain whether the Neom resort will open and offer alcoholic beverages on its menu or not. The reason is, this is a risk for Saudi Arabia as home to the holy sites of Muslims, Mecca and Medina.

MBS is also known as the prince who has relaxed several laws in Saudi Arabia in recent years, including allowing women to drive, reopening cinemas and allowing different genders to mix freely.

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