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According to a Business Recorder news item, Dubai has suspended a tax of 30 percent on alcohol and dropped a licence fee previously needed to buy alcohol in the commercial and tourism hub, two major retailers said on social media. The move is expected to further boost the appeal of Dubai to tourists and expatriate residents drawn by its more liberal lifestyle, compared to other Gulf states.

In April 1977, the populist government of Zufikar Ali Bhutto banned the sale of alcohol in Pakistan. Since then a thriving black market successfully has been meeting the ever-growing demand. The demand is largely met through alcohol that is smuggled into the country on a very large scale. Liquor seized by customs and other agencies is hardly a fraction of what arrives in the country’s black market.

Be that as it may, alcohol continues to remain banned in Islamic Republic of Pakistan. However, it is interesting to note that Saudi Arabia has clarified recently that it will continue with its current laws on alcohol and does not need to change these regulations to boost its already thriving tourism sector.

The kingdom had to issue a clarification in response to reports claiming that its futurist NEOM city has not ruled out allowing alcohol. That Saudi Arabia is reluctant to lift alcohol ban because it already has a very thriving tourism sector is a fact. My question is: does Pakistan have any tourism sector at all, so to speak?

Rashid Qidwai (Islamabad)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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