Saudi Arabia and alcohol

In case anybody didn’t know, Alcohol is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. Punishments are draconic, up to 500 lashes, (this could kill you) prison (from a few days to many weeks) and in case of foreigners of course deportation. You better make sure not bring in any kind of alcohol when visiting the kingdom, as it is sure to be found! This doesn’t mean alcohol is completely unavailable, Diplomats can import it in the diplomatic baggage, and princes bring it in by plane loads! Any other kind of alcohol will be home brewed. there is a lot of home brewing going in inside foreign compounds. Outside of the compounds the most available is a white lightning called ”siddiqi”, or ”sadeeki” or in short ”sid”. Sid is made from fermeted palm juice and retails at about $15,- per bottle. This stuff can be up to 90% and be contaminated with  impurities.

Homebrewing operations vary from small time to industrial, last week Asir police raided a valley in the mountains of Uhud Rufaida in the Asir province where liquor dealers were brewing more than 65 barrels of Araq, an anise-based spirit common in parts of the Middle East. Police used a tractor to dig up and destroy the barrels that held a combined capacity of 200 liters.

In Jeddah different nationalities have their own specialities. Filipinos brew the illicit alcohol,  Yemenis and Indians sell it. The prostitutes tend to be from Nigeria and Ethiopia, the drug peddlars are from Pakistan.

As punishment is extremely harsh, especially for selling alcohol to a Saudi citizen, profits must be worthwhile.

Read more:

Dara Rehab Asia

BBC, Saudi’s sleezy underworld

Saudi Gazette




36 Responses

  1. From the beginning of time alcohol has been drunk and it will continue. Prohibition will never stop it. It has been a hardship for many Saudis on the east coast to have to curtail their excursions to Bahrain because of the turmoil there. It was a safe haven for many to enjoy a drink or two and even to have some actual fun like go to a movie or a dance.

  2. you can find anything in ksa pot,hash,wine,chivas regal label,king robert scotch and lots of other shit but only if you are well connected

  3. This article does not seem to be written by Bedu – I maybe mistaken though. Apologies if so.

  4. “You better make sure not bring in any kind of alcohol when visiting the kingdom, as it is sure to be found!” Unless you know a royal. In that case, you could bring anything and be greeted with a smile and congratulations on your safe return.

    This is what one might call equal applications and implementation of the customs’ rules. No?

  5. Isn’t that just the norm in KSA, Ali? What is good for the goose is definitely NOT good for the gander in so many aspects of KSA life be it the royals or men or …..

  6. I don’t like alcohol, I think it’s a very harmful drug, but prohibition has and will never work.

  7. sarah – may i ask what difference does it make if the article is written by carol or one of her associates. i don’t understand the reasons behind your doubts. just curious. blessings ….

  8. Alcohol is completely forbidden in Islam. It’s prove by professionnal studies than if you drink too much alcohol , you would loose a part of your mind for few hours. Sometimes people don’t know when to stop drinking and they begin to drink too much!!! So, that’s why Islam forbidden alcohol as devil beverage. But of course, many people defy the law and find the way to drink “under table”

  9. Father & daughter had sex after drinking:

    When u drink u lose sense, and so drinking is not allowed while driving. Just like this drinking should not be allowed in family, public..anywhere where one can make bad thing good.

  10. I think the posts signed AA were not written by Carol. You can tell they are different and they are signed to let us know they are from a moderator.

  11. Dana:

    If you drink too much water you will die. If you eat too much you can die either quickly or slowly.

    Alcohol has a use and a purpose. If taken in small amounts or used for medicinal purposes it is an excellent product.

    However with everything it can be abused.


    Many father’s have had sex with their daughters/sons which has not involved alcohol.

    Alcohol is not the culprit, people are and all things upon this earth can be subject to abuse or excess.

  12. I always referred to the existence of alcohol and by whom as part of the underworld culture in Saudi Arabia. It’s certainly not worth the risks to ones life and by the strict punishment of the law, is it worth risking a severe punishment, possibly death? There are better activities in which one can openly indulge and enjoy plus life is too short and precious….IMHO.

  13. @ susanne40 … what is the big deal if someone else wrote on behalf of Carol. Does it make a difference to you? I have no problem with it as Carol has said some people are sitting in for her at times.

  14. Wendy, I was answering Sarah. I should have addressed her to avoid the confusion and scolding by you.

  15. Alcohol brings with it all sorts of problems. In Saudi we experience when the Government turn a blind eyes on Westerners who drink Alcohol. t
    This brought with it other problems. When they drink, they need women and the government allow them to mix, but as usual when alcohol and women are around problems and fighting start. True, some Westerneres kill each other, other Westerners bomb thier Westren enimes. The following article tell the story:

    The English people pride themselves with the holding of the rule of law, but it seems a joke. From the article: (British expatriates have long been known to control the lucrative smuggling of alcohol to the Middle East and the production of strong spirits, particularly in Saudi).

  16. Susanne340, Thanks for clearing that up. I did not see the “AA” right at the bottom there and I did apologise beforehand.

    Louise Enakai, it does not matter who wrote the post. I just did not feel the Carol-ness in that article and to be honest I did not enjoy it. Carol writes in a soft tone that makes even subjects like this enjoyable to read. I did not get the same feel. I really like the way Carol writes. There is a gentle warmth to her way of writing.

    There are other blogs that have guest writers too. I don’t have problems with that. My comment was spontaneuos (spl?) because I just did not like the way it was written and I did not understand what the picture has to do with the subject (call me idiot).

    Peace to you both.


    it means Saudi is very tolerant to outsiders, even allow to break their laws. Hmmm…
    Sometimes what we hear and see may not be real and what we dont see and hear may be real.

    Perception is real even though its not reality.

  18. @Snowman,
    Alcohol abuse can bring some of these problems. In Saudi these issues don’t only come up because of foreigners( why pretend that others are the problem?) One major problem with not allowing the mixing of sexes is that many think it’s always about men wanting women, there are so many other ways different sexes can interact. Also don’t some Arabs bomb each other & non-Arabs? Tell us please.
    Again, have you been to Bahrain on week-end &seen Saudis go bonkers while partying?

  19. … This doesn’t mean alcohol is completely unavailable, Diplomats can import it in the diplomatic baggage, and princes bring it in by plane loads! Any other kind of alcohol will be home brewed …

    Not just in saudi arabia … the so-called vatican and citadel of islam … but alcohol/drugs are freely available in all muslim countries albeit via the underground. Having lived in many muslim countries, especially south asia, one reads in their newspapers and sees it on their tv news every other day about many “devout” muslims in moonshine alcohol business and then many dying from drinking tainted/contaminated alcohol.

    Also, I remember reading a book (I can’t recall the name or author right now) about the Nov 1979 incident when 40/60-K pilgrims seized the grand mosque in mecca, and declared that the long-awaited mahdi had come to cleanse islam in the house of saud. Over 4/5-K saudi and french troops stormed the grand mosque to crush the operation. Hmmm. French kafirs with weapons allowed into the mosque by the royals and grand mufti???

    To make a very long story short, during this operation the saudi/french troops discovered a maze of underground tunnels under the kaaba, and found a grand factory for the manufacture of wines, whisky, vodka, etc. Subsequent investigation also found hundreds of vendors/middlemen around mecca and around the kaaba labyrinth of side streets who were the distributors throughout the kingdom.

    Anyway, what I am trying to say is that PROHIBITION doesn’t work, as we painfully found out here in the US. Look how much revenue will be gained by legalizing alcohol, by taking the criminality out of such shenanigans. Besides, from my understanding of koran, it does not prohibit alcohol outright. All it sez is that there is more harm in it than good, so try not to go near it (or something like that). Also, there is documented medical evidence that to imbibe in a glass or two is good for your heart and keeps the doctor away :)-

  20. Morocco even has a wine industry for heaven sake. They are not all falling down drunk or raping and pillaging. When you ban something it makes it all the more important to have.

  21. Wendy, LOL!
    Yes, when you ban something you make it only more desirable.
    I remember when I was studying in London what my friends found most interesting about the Netherlands was that cannabis is allowed, and they couldn’t wait to go to Amsterdam and smoke themselves stupid. Such things become a lot less cool and interesting if they are not forbidden.
    And I think that goes for covering up women in black bags as well, worse, it makes not only women, but the black bags themselves into fetish objects. It is unhealthy.

    It is much better to educate your children, to give them good morals, and to leave it to them to behave responsible with dangerous substances like alcohol, or in case of Islam, to give them the conviction and strength of mind to refuse taking it.

  22. Aafke-Art, then you acknowledge Islam banning of alcohol
    see Quran 5:91

  23. A glass of red wine , crisp salad and fine bread , relaxing on my deck chatting with my husband –my version of peace 🙂 and it apparently does wonders for my heart …
    what’s not to love.
    so far i havn’t fallen upon innocent men and attacked them 🙂

  24. Aafke-Art – I wanted to mention the black bags and forbidden objects but I figured I’d leave that up to you.
    Radha – a woman after my own heart!

  25. A Muslim, what do you mean? As far as I know the Quran prohibits the drinking of alcohol yes.

    Radha, I’ll be joining you. With a fresh juice. If you are really speaking the truth and will not attack me.

    Wendy, the black bag effect leaps to the eye. A friend who lives in Yemen told me the men there get all riled up by anything large and black, even if its just a wall.
    It’s sexual fetish dress. At least here in the West we wear normal clothes in public, not especially designed to get men all sexually aroused.

  26. @Radha and Aafke – As long as Radha would not attack me either, I’d love to join her holding up whatever sugar free non-alcoholic drink I may have.

  27. AB, Aafke – I will not attack you 100% 🙂 be sure about that, i don’t even attack F after a gladd of wine, I mix crushed frozen fruit in my wine for extra flavor so i can do the same for you minus the wine… F makes a fantastic watermelon,ginger,mint juice and some excellent beet ,spinach,walnut goat cheese salad.
    You guys need to visit soon before P goes off to college and my supply of fresh home baked bread stops…i’ll have o resort to buying bread..ahhhhh is it illegal to chain your daughter to the house ???? We will miss her cooking and fresh bread and healthy dessert and everything.. and i’m already depressed thinking of her leaving.

  28. Snowman…blaming foreigners for the influx of alcohol into the kingdom is misleading…as Im sure it wasn’t foreigners who used the catacombs under mecca for the brewing of alcohol. Also, experience one weekend in Bahrain when the causeway is full to bursting with Saudis intent on leaving that restrictive environment to a more relaxed one…

    I always did find it ironic that saudi’s (arab men in general really) would give the stink eye to any arab woman that dared venture into a bar, nightclub, hubbly bubbly etc…yet not see the hypocrisy in the fact that they wouldn’t be able to give that stink eye…if they themselves were not also in that establishment.

  29. @coolred38 – it’s not just arab men 🙂 that stupid behavior belongs to a few other categories of men too. they will go visit a bar but if they see women in the very same bar then those women arefree game and open to ridicule…patriarchial mindset and a fear of women becoming free 🙂

  30. @Radhaa – I don’t mean to sound too picky as a potential visitor, but I have to eat diabetic-ally correct now. F’s drinks sound so wonderful.

  31. Im in middle east for years, ,officualy haram! Unofficialy is everywhere! Biggest import of alcohol in middle east…freedomingulf@gmail

  32. Sorry, I have a question about baking/cooking. Somethings like rum balls or a real good spaghetti sauce needs a bit of alcohol for taste. Are there ‘essences’ you can use instead over there???

  33. Lauren please do check out this website for list of alcohol substitutes in cooking

  34. Thanks for that!!

    Any idea if vanilla essence is available in KSA?? Some places it considers it a form of alcohol….

  35. Vanilla essence has a high alcohol percentage so i am sure it’s banned in Saudi. Why don’t you try maple syrup or simply buy a non alcoholic vanilla essence? That’s what I use 😉

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