Mrunal Manmay Dash

In a liberalising step for an ultra-conservative country, Saudi Arabia has opened a liquor outlet, the first one in over 70 years.

The opening of the liquor store on Wednesday is the latest move by Saudi officials to modernise the country’s image, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aims to increase tourism and business.

Located in capital Riyadh’s Diplomatic quarters, the store will be accessible only to non-Muslim diplomats, meaning that for the vast majority of Saudi Arabia’s 32 million people, nothing will change for now.

The store is not open to non-diplomats and does not nullify alcohol bans that have applied to citizens since the 1950s.

Additionally, purchasing quotas will be enforced. Access to the store will be restricted to those who register via an application. And customers will be asked to keep their phones in a “special mobile pouch” while they browse for beer, wine and spirits, reported The Guardian.

Saudi Arabia is one of just a handful of countries across the world with an alcohol ban for citizens.

The founding monarch of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz, implemented the alcohol ban in the country in 1951 after his son drunkenly shot and killed British citizen and vice-consul Cyril Ousman while attending a party.

Kuwait has also prohibited the sale and purchase of all liquor within its borders since 1965—a move that at the time caused the death or hospitalization of hundreds of citizens as they drank perfume and hand sanitisers instead.