Wine Laws in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Alcohol, like narcotics, is illegal in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). It is also unlawful to make, sell, possess, or use alcoholic beverages. According to Saudi wine law, drinking is punishable by public whipping, fines, and long-term incarceration – with deportation in some circumstances. Saudi Arabia is home to Islam’s holiest city, Mecca, and is a highly conservative Islamic Kingdom. As a result, the Saudi administration has carefully observed Islamic regulations and imposed them on its citizens.

In Saudi Arabia, alcohol is absolutely prohibited. Therefore, there is no official and formal procedure to obtain alcohol in Saudi Arabia. Many unregistered and unverifiable stories suggest that people have been detained just for smelling like wine. Furthermore, those who have previously been caught with alcohol in their possession have received both lashes and a prison sentence. In some cases, deportation is included in the arrangement, but it is not always the case.

The punishment for selling alcohol is worse than the penalty for merely possessing it; nevertheless, if someone is caught selling alcohol to Saudi nationals, they might face 500 lashes, if not more. Expats who are caught carrying alcohol face the same penalties as before. However, it has been observed that the authorities are not as harsh on Saudi nationals. If a local is found with alcohol in their possession, the authorities will typically seize it and let the national leave without further escalating the situation. 

Saudi wine law

Saudi wine law via

In 1992, the King of KSA issued a document named, ‘The Basic Principles of Governance’, which dictated all the regularities associated with the consumption and prohibition of wine and related drinks. Nonetheless, as it always happens with any illegal operations, where there is a will, there is a way. Even though it is illegal, alcohol is freely available in Saudi Arabia if you know where to look. Alcohol is widely available in western compounds, albeit the kind of liquor available is typically not branded but home-brewed liquor.

Saudi Arabian expats can acquire alcohol in several ways, including producing it themselves, attending embassy parties, and buying it on the black market. Moreover, it is heard that some of the western compounds have informal bars, but there is no evidence to substantiate these claims. Unfortunately, no particular formal regulations exist that exempt travelers from Saudi Arabia’s alcohol ban. Tourists, like citizens, are not authorized to consume alcohol when visiting the Kingdom.

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To ensure the strict ban on alcoholic consumption, Saudi Arabia has even gone so far as to imply that visitors to the Kingdom are not authorized to consume anything. Therefore, you may face incarceration if you enter Saudi Arabia while drunk or merely smell like alcohol. Foreigners in Saudi Arabia can, however, occasionally purchase locally manufactured black-market liquor, particularly on Western business compounds. According to the BBC, expats regularly compete to create sugary beverages.

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