I first came to
It is well-know that alcohol is illegal in
There are those who come to Saudi with the attitude that alcohol is against the law here and while they are, in effect, guests in this country, they will respect the local laws and customs. Others feel differently - for them there are many opportunities to obtain and drink various types of alcoholic drink.
One of the first things you come across when you came to live in
Un-cut sid is extremely powerful and dangerous. I heard a story about a woman who came out to Saudi to join her husband. Shortly after she arrived, some friends came to visit while her husband was out. Being polite she offered them a drink and they asked for a sid and coke. Unfortunately, the sid she severed them was un-cut: it took the guests three days to recover from alcohol poisoning. The woman's husband was extremely angry with her, although it seems to me that it was not her fault.
Many people brew their own wine. It is easy to do - all you need is grape juice, sugar and yeast. Mind you the results are very variable. If you are invited round to someone’s house for a drink and you ask for wine, you are playing Russian Roulette. You may be served something acceptable or it may be absolutely disgusting - and you have to drink it out of politeness.
Very few people brew beer; it's a little bit more complicated than wine. However, most of the bars serve beer; it's obviously home-made and, for me, it's an acquired taste. One of the wives on a compound where I used to live brewed some excellent beer. Unfortunately, she returned to the
Bottles of real spirits can also be bought on the black market. Last time I enquired, the price was 450 riyals (GBP 70) a bottle. A bit too expensive for me and, anyway, I'm not too fond of spirits.
An friend of mine told me that he once met a sales representative for a well-known brand of whiskey out here. My friend asked what he was doing here since there wasn't much of a market for his product out here. "On the contrary" replied the rep, "this is one of our biggest markets"!
You way be wondering how the spirits are smuggled into Saudi. One way is by passing ships dropping a consignment overboard and a Saudi fishing boat coming along and picking it up later.
Smugglers are, of course, noted for their ingenuity. A few years ago there was some "excitement" in the city of
Another story I’ve heard is about a Saudi prince who landed in his private jet, with his entourage, at an airport in one of the other Gulf countries. Normally, the planes belonging to members of other royal families are not searched out of courtesy. However, for some reason this plane was searched and guess what they found - crates and crates of whiskey and other spirits!
Because there is little entertainment available in Saudi some people do end up drinking more than is good for them. One last story, which may be another myth. A