On Wednesday, the Saudi government verified articles appearing in state-run media stating that it was putting additional limitations on the entry of alcohol inside diplomatic packages. The new rules, according to the kingdom’s Center of International Communication (CIC), are intended to prevent the illegal trade in alcohol-related items and products that are obtained by diplomatic missions.
The CIC told Reuters in a statement that “this new process will continue to grant and ensure that all diplomats of non-Muslim embassies have access to these products in specified quotas.” The statement went on to say that the new framework honored diplomatic traditions across the world.
“To put an end to the previous unregulated process that caused an uncontrolled exchange of such goods in the kingdom, the new process will focus on allocating specific quantities of alcohol goods when entering the kingdom,” it continued.
For the vast majority of Saudi Arabia’s 32 million citizens, who have few options for imbibing unless they are prepared to travel outside, the statement suggested that not much would change quickly. In the meantime, Saudi Arabia was getting ready to build its first alcohol store in the capital, Riyadh, catering just to non-Muslim diplomats, a source familiar with the plans and documentation told Reuters.
According to the paper, which Reuters saw, customers will need to register via a mobile app, obtain a clearance code from the foreign ministry, and adhere to monthly purchase limitations. The new store would be “strictly restricted” to non-Muslims and is situated in Riyadh’s Diplomatic Quarter, a neighborhood home to embassies and diplomats, according to the statement.