Following the announcement of the opening of nightclub brand WHITE in Jeddah as a pop-up lounge, several things took place. First, authorities ordered the immediate closure of the so-called lounge just an hour before its opening act, Ne-Yo, was set to appear on stage. But, the club reopened the night after and has operated normally since. Second, rumors that Saudi Arabia will allow the sale and consumption of alcohol surfaced, despite the fact that it was explicitly stated that the "halal disco" would be an alcohol-free zone.
At the time, sources told StepFeed the high-end café will not serve alcohol, in line with Saudi Arabia's laws and regulations. Consuming or selling alcoholic drinks is illegal in Saudi Arabia and violators are often subject to severe punishments including imprisonment and deportation.
Following the latter incident, Saudi Arabia reassured the public that the news was "fake" and that the kingdom does not have plans to allow the sale of alcoholic drinks, a senior government source told Arab News.
"If you read the fake news, you will notice it is all based on hearsay and tweets by accounts known to have a questionable agenda when talking about the kingdom," the source told the regional publication.
Another source at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) also told Arab News that the legality of alcoholic drinks "is simply not happening."
"I have not heard of any plans to allow alcohol in major cities, free zones or new projects," the source said.
The SCTH is the body that approves licenses for hotels and restaurants in the kingdom. So, had there really been plans to allow alcoholic drinks, the commission would not have only known about them but would have been the one to approve them.
Saudi Arabia has really upped its transformational game in recent years.
Since Vision 2030 was initiated in 2016, the kingdom has opened its doors wide to a range of new cultural activities. Public concerts, international conferences, cinemas, and other entertainment options have come to the kingdom, with young Saudis expressing enthusiasm for the changes.
A landmark decision to lift the women's driving ban (though long overdue) was also among the many decisions that came forth under the kingdom's transformational program.
The launch of Jeddah Season, a massive entertainment festival, this summer was also another. The month-long event-packed festival aims at boosting people's idea of tourism in Saudi Arabia, which was practically non-existent 10 years ago. To attract audiences, the kingdom announced that anyone who purchases an event ticket online will be issued an e-visa in just three minutes.
Despite all this, the conservative kingdom is strict about the implementation of Sharia law, which prohibits alcohol in the public sphere. Although punishments for trafficking and consuming alcohol can be severe, many locals illegally consume liquor regularly in the country. Some fathers brew alcohol in bathrooms while a number of mothers buy supplies to make wine in-house.