Liquor Free Saudi Arabia | Saudi Arabia, Riyadh According to planning records and persons familiar with the project, Saudi Arabia’s futuristic megaproject Neom intends to offer wine, cocktails, and champagne at a beach resort that is set to open next year. This would be a first for a conservative nation where alcohol is prohibited.
If permitted, the sale of alcohol would be a risky turning point in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s economic and cultural transformation of his nation, which is intended in part to draw tourists from abroad and entice businesses to live and work there.
Liquor Free Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia presents itself as an example of Muslim morality and is home to the holiest sites in Islam, Mecca and Medina. Allowing alcohol, which many Muslims believe is prohibited by the Quran, might cause a backlash among more devout Saudis and the larger Muslim community.
Although Neom, a wide collection of developments on land the size of Massachusetts that is described as the kingdom’s future, is a vast collection of developments, expats believe in polls that access to alcohol would be vital to their quality of life there.
According to planning documents from January that were seen by The Wall Street Journal, the Neom resort, located on the Red Sea island of Sindalah, plans to include a premium wine bar, a separate cocktail bar, and a bar for “champagne and desserts.”
A retail wine store with a “striking vertical wall display” is also included in the plans.
Pictures in a Sindalah master plan from June show visitors gathered around a chilled bottle of champagne and pastries while a waiter pours drinks in front of bottles of what look to be high-end vodka, whiskey, and wine. Other images hint at how Neom’s projects can subvert the cultural norms of the kingdom by featuring bikini-clad ladies and men—rare sights in Saudi Arabia—lounging on boats and swimming in infinity pools.
Additionally, a retail wine store with a “striking vertical wall display” is called for in the plans.
A June master design for Sindalah includes images of a bartender serving drinks in front of bottles of what appear to be high-end vodka, whiskey, and wine, as well as images of guests gathered around a chilled bottle of champagne and desserts.
Other images hint to how Neom’s projects can disrupt the cultural norms of the country by showing men and women in bare chests and bikinis, both of which are uncommon in Saudi Arabia.
Given that alcohol would not be provided on the Arabian Peninsula’s main landmass, Sindalah’s offshore location might offer protection. Alcohol sales, possession, and use are all prohibited in Saudi Arabia and are subject to fines, jail time, and even possible public flogging.
In an effort to open the country to foreign investment and tourism, Prince Mohammed, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, has recently relaxed the strict morals regulations, allowing sexes to mix freely, allowing women to drive, and reopening movie theatres. Neom is anticipated to have its own laws that are distinct from those of the larger kingdom but are still ruled by King Salman, the father of the crown prince.
Recent messages from Saudi officials about the selling of alcohol have varied, and the government may ultimately decide against allowing alcohol consumption anywhere in the kingdom, including at Neom.
The head of Neom Tourism, Andrew McEvoy, stated that alcohol “is definitely not off the table” in an interview that was published in May in the National newspaper of Abu Dhabi. He also stated that the project’s legislation would “meet the objectives of individuals we are aiming to attract to work and live here.”
Parts of Mr. McEvoy’s remarks were refuted by the Saudi government in a statement that followed, which stated that Neom will be governed by Saudi Arabian law but have unique economic regulations. According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr. McEvoy has since departed Neom. A mail asking him to comment received no response.