Riyadh — The lights are dim and the game is on loud at a sports bar in downtown Riyadh. Women perched on bar stools sip blueberry mojitos in front of wall-to-wall screens, erupting in cheers when their soccer team scores.

This being Saudi Arabia, of course there’s one thing missing: alcohol. The drinks are virgin because the country bans booze. But as the kingdom goes through an intoxicating social transformation, Saudis are now starting to wonder — some with excitement, many with concern — if another hallmark of their country’s strict interpretation of Islam might start to disappear.

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Sunday Times Daily.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now