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Saudi Arabia turns desert into ‘alcohol paradise’ by 2030

Arab Saudi

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has ambitions to build an ‘alcohol paradise’. It is located in the city of Neom.

Neom is one of Saudi Arabia’s projects to start relying on tourism, industry and renewable energy. So far, Saudi Arabia has relied more on the oil sector for its economy. Neom is part of Saudi Vision 2030 and is expected to be completed in time for 2030.

If confirmed, this will be the latest rule implemented by the royal government that makes Saudi, a conservative country that still implements Islamic sharia law, more moderate. Saudi Arabia has banned the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages throughout the country.

What is Neom City in Saudi Arabia?

Neom City is part of a Saudi mega project that is still ongoing. This future city is being built in Tabuk Province, west of Saudi lau facing Egypt across the Red Sea.

MbS claims Neom City will be built on 26,500 kilometers of arid desert land complete with high technology and have capacity for 450,000 people by 2026 and nine million by 2045. The futuristic city is planned to be completed in phases starting in 2025.

Neom is just one part of a massive US$1 trillion Saudi tourism project. This project is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) has initiated since ascending the throne in 2017.

The vision aims to diversify the Saudi economy away from relying solely on oil. Now, the tourism sector is one of the state revenue faucets for Saudi.

Neom is one of Saudi Arabia’s projects to start relying on tourism, industry and renewable energy. So far, Saudi Arabia has relied more on the oil sector for its economy. Neom is part of Saudi Vision 2030 and is expected to be completed in time for 2030.

In Neom, Saudi Arabian authorities will allow the sale and consumption of wine, cocktails, and champagne at a resort. Neom is part of the Saudi mega-project on Sindalah Island near the Red Sea. The resort is scheduled to open in 2023.

“Saudi Arabia will open bars and allow retail stores to openly sell wine in tourist areas,” according to Saudi government documents reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

A photo in the Neom project plan document shows a bartender pouring cocktails in premium bottles such as vodka, whiskey and wine, as quoted by Middle East Monitor.

In the photo, guests can be seen sitting on chairs while chatting. On the table were bottles of alcohol and a few pieces of cake on a plate.

Back in May, the former head of tourism in the town of Neom, Andrew McEvoy, said Neom would be protected under the special economy law.

[UU akan sesuai dengan] “It’s their ambition that we’re trying to attract to work and live here,” says McEvoy.

He went on to say, “Alcohol is not off the table.”

If Saudi Arabia does introduce alcohol consumption and sales, it will be a breakthrough for the notoriously conservative government. However, some are also concerned that the plan marks a cultural shift in Saudi.

During this time, the Kingdom banned the consumption and sale of alcohol in any form throughout the country. Anyone who violates the law is liable to fines, imprisonment and flogging.

Illustration of Neom City Saudi Arabia

The following Saudi Arabian projects are planned to be located in Neom City.

The Line

In Neom City, the Saudis will also build an ambitious 500-meter-high, 200-meter-wide, 170-kilometer-long skyscraper project called The Line.

Prince MbS, as the Board of Directors, announced the design of The Line on July 25.

A mock-up of the project is also on display at the Dhahran Expo this September 6-21. This ambitious project is worth US$100 billion to US$200 billion.

Oxagon

The Saudis also plan to build an octagon-shaped industrial city and a 30-story winter resort on the mountainside in the region. Oxagon City will be partly built floating above the Red Sea.

According to the Neom mega project website, Oxagon will be the largest above-sea-level structure in the world. The Saudis also plan to implement 100 percent clean energy sources in the 48-square-kilometer Oxagon.

Sindalah Island

The construction of Neom also extended to Sindalah Island in the Red Sea. The island will be turned into a grand resort just a few kilometers away from the Sharm El Sheikh resort in Egypt. It is on Sindalah Island that the Saudis plan to allow the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. On Sindalah Island, a number of bars and resorts and a golf course will be built.

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