Wine Laws in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is known for its strict laws and regulations, particularly with regard to alcohol consumption. As a deeply conservative Islamic Kingdom, the Saudi administration has carefully observed Islamic regulations and imposed them on its citizens. In this article, we will delve deeper into Saudi wine law and the prohibition of alcohol in the country.

Prohibition of Alcohol in Saudi Arabia

Alcohol, like narcotics, is illegal in the 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. This strict prohibition is rooted in the country’s religious and cultural values, particularly the prohibition of intoxicants in Islamic law.

A woman’s hand reaches out to select a bottle of red wine from the shelf of a wine shop

Penalties for Alcohol Consumption

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.

Penalties for Selling Alcohol

Did you know? The punishment for selling alcohol is worse than the penalty for merely possessing it.

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

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. This document laid down the strict laws and regulations related to the prohibition of alcohol in the country. Saudi wine law is based on the country’s religious and cultural values and is taken very seriously by the Saudi administration.

Alcohol Availability in Saudi Arabia

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 ex-pats 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.

Tourists and Alcohol Consumption

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. This is something that tourists should keep in mind before visiting the country to avoid any legal issues.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strict laws and regulations regarding the prohibition of alcohol. The Saudi administration has carefully observed Islamic regulations and imposed them on its citizens. It is illegal to make, sell, possess, or use alcoholic beverages in the country. Those who violate Saudi wine law face harsh penalties, including public whipping, fines, and long-term incarceration – with deportation in some circumstances. Therefore, tourists and ex-pats must be aware of the consequences before consuming or possessing alcohol in the country.

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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, ex-pats regularly compete to create sugary beverages.

Want to read more? Try these books!

Bible Wines- Or, The Laws of Fermentation and Wines of the Ancients The Little Red Book of Wine Law (ABA Little Books Series)

 

Categories: Country ProfilesTags: , , , , By Published On: October 26, 2022Last Updated: February 21, 2024

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