For the first time in history, Saudi Arabia may relax its ban on alcoholic beverages come 2023. According to reports, wine, cocktails and champagne will be made available for the very first time in the kingdom, at a beach resort located in its upcoming proposed smart linear city, The Line by Neom.
The Neom resort, which will be located on a Red Sea island called Sindalah, will treat guests to a premium wine bar complete with a theatrical wall display, along with a special bar for cocktails, and a third one dedicated to champagne and desserts. The information comes our way from teams that are currently working on the development of Neom, along with reports that were shared by The Wall Street Journal. Further proof comes via pictures of Sindalah, which show a bartender whipping up cocktails, with bottles of premium alcohol in the backdrop.
However, for guests who prefer not to consume alcohol, zero-alcohol beers and wine will also be made available, as is the current norm in the kingdom. Along with this, alcohol will continue to be forbidden on the mainland Arabian peninsula.
While the new development may earn criticism in the region given Saudi Arabia’s status as home to Islam’s holiest site, Mecca, it seems to have stemmed from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s aim to give the country a modern makeover with the goal of attracting more tourists and expats who can contribute to the economy of the kingdom. The decision comes after a series of changes that have taken place of late, from the re-opening of theaters to women now being allowed to drive.
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As the news continues to do the rounds, no concrete confirmation has been made regarding the allowance of alcohol as of yet. Back in May 2022, Princess Haifa bint Mohammed al-Saud took the stage at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to share that the kingdom has been doing well and attracting enough guests without having to lift its alcohol ban. “We have been outperforming globally when it comes to tourism with what we currently have to offer today. The short answer is we are going to continue with our current laws,” the royal said at the time.