Can you drink alcohol in Saudi Arabia? (2023)

Getting Drunk in Saudi Arabia

Everyone knows that drinking booze is against the Muslim religion, but can you drink alcohol in Saudi Arabia?

When I first flew into Riyadh, a few years back now, I was expecting to have a very dry life, but within 20 minutes of arriving on my new compound I was sat beside the pool with a large group of expats getting very drunk on a local brew called sidique or just sid for short. This drink is basically neat alcohol produced by fermenting sugared water and then distilling the resulting mix. As such it is very strong (neat medicinal alcohol) and most people will dilute a neat bottle of sidique 3 or 4 times to get a drink that is more drinkable; that’s turn one bottle into 3 or 4 bottles before you even start to mix it with your cola!

Most of the larger compounds have a bar of sorts, however most of them only serve home brewed booze which tends to mean lager that has been re-fermented to add back the alcohol, or wine which is fermented fruit juice available from the local supermarkets. Alcohol is actually very simple to make, you only need to add a couple of grains of yeast (cooking yeast is fine) to a bottle of non-alcoholic lager or a bottle of fruit juice with a little added sugar and leave it to ferment for a few days and you will have yourself some booze.

Alcohol is illegal

Alcohol is so illegal that you will not even find a version of your favorite Listerine mouth wash that contains it. You cannot buy alcohol in any form openly in KSA; although that does not mean that you can’t get it!

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Bringing booze to Saudi Arabia

Don’t be stupid! Smuggling in booze is likely to get you into serious trouble, the sort of trouble that will entail long stays in jail and losing your job. It really is not worth the risk; you can buy alcohol when you get there if you ask around your fellow expats. Within a few weeks of being there I had enough contacts to buy just about any type of booze you could need, just don’t try to buy from Saudis or other Arabs.

Home made booze in KSA

There are many expats (and Saudis) who make their own beer and wine, it really is as simple as I described above although most will produce their booze on a slightly larger scale than a bottle at a time. The 5 or 6 gallon containers that you buy water in for your water dispenser are the perfect container for producing enough beer or wine for a small party. The whole process however can take over a month as you need the mix to ferment and then for the resulting mix to settle so that the suspended yeast sinks to the bottom before you siphon your nectar into individual bottles.

You can spot the brewers in the supermarket fairly easily, they are the ones with a trolley that is piled high with fruit juice, cases of non alcoholic beer and large bags of sugar. The fruit juice that comes in the glass resealable bottles is best as these bottles although a little more expensive are perfect for putting your beer back into when finished.

The results of home brewing can be highly unpredictable, especially if you fail to sterilize your kit properly before you start. Taste can also vary a lot depending on the amount of extra sugar you add and the quality of the beer or juice that you use for your base. I tend to add apple and peach juices to my grape juices as I find these improve the finished flavors. I have tried fermenting some of the flavored lagers also but I do not recommend them!

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Personally as a bit of a party animal I would tend to have 4 or 5 of these containers at various stages of fermentation, this however can be risky as if you are caught you will probably be thought of as a supplier and will have little chance of escaping being thrown in the jail. Never sell booze it really is not worth the risk! Remember also that they they do stink a little as they ferment so you will not want them in the house unless you can put them in a spare bathroom (which is what I used to do in my apartment off compound), or an unused bedroom.

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Buying real drinks in Saudi Arabia

Real drinks are available, in fact one compound bar that I know of in Riyadh is stocked with nothing but bottles of Jack Daniels, Smirnoff Vodka, and the local favorite Black Label. Beer is harder to come by but you can still buy cans of beer if you are lucky enough to find them and willing to pay the price. A bottle of “real” drink can set you back over 1000SAR (that’s almost $300), although you can find “bargains” if you have patience and are prepared to shop around.

Saudis and Alcohol

While some Saudis follow their religion and do not drink, many will have a bottle of something stronger than lemonade in their home. Most of my Saudi friends that I socialized with regularly have a stock of whiskey and other booze and have even been known to turn up to work totally drunk!

If you want to see the real Saudi attitude to drink you only have to try to cross the causeway into Bahrain at the weekend where you will have to join a 4 or 5 hour long queue of Saudis on their way over to chase women and drink in the many bars. If you don’t want to sit in your car on the bridge book a flight to Dubai for a weekend party; but book well in advance.

Buying Sidique

Sid is a neat alcohol that has been fermented and distilled, therefore it is risky! Poorly distilled sidique can contain other chemicals such as methanol which can turn you blind or even kill you so be very careful from who you buy. If you do buy sid check it by putting a small amount onto a teaspoon and light it. It should burn with a blue flame and leave no residue on the spoon. If the flame shows yellow or even worse green then do not drink it, just pour it down the sink! It is not worth risking your life for a drink!

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Getting caught with Alcohol in Saudi Arabia

Do not travel with Alcohol in your car or on your person, there are many checkpoints and Saudi drivers are crazy so accidents happen frequently and you have to wait for the police! If I ever had parties off compound or away from my apartment when I lived off compound I would have a Saudi friend transport the booze. If a Saudi is stopped with booze the worst that is likely to happen is that the police will steal it and slap his wrists.

If you are stopped in a car full of booze you will either have to spend a lot of money on the police who have stopped you or you will be spending the remainder of your Saudi stay in the luxury of one of their hell holes of a prison. Just remember prison is for punishment in Saudi Arabia not for reform!

Drunk Driving in KSA

There is no law about driving while intoxicated, after all you can’t drink! That being said, if you are caught drunk behind the wheel of your car you will be in some very deep excrement. You need to completely sober and in full control of your senses to drive in Saudi Arabia at the best of times so it really is not worth it! Don’t drink and drive!

If you want to know anything else about drinking alcohol in Saudi Arabia just leave a message bellow and I will respond after I have finished having a drink by the pool with the guys!

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FAQs

Can Tourists drink alcohol in Saudi Arabia? ›

Tourists are not exempted from the ban on alcohol in Saudi Arabia. Tourists are not allowed to consume alcohol while in the country even while en route to the country. You can be arrested if you cross the Saudi border while intoxicated, in possession of alcohol or even just smell like alcohol.

Is there bars in Saudi Arabia? ›

The cultural environment in Saudi Arabia is highly conservative. Religious law forbids the sale or consumption of alcohol throughout the country, so there are no bars or nightclubs.

How do people get alcohol in Saudi Arabia? ›

Alcohol is especially available in the western compounds although, the types of liquor that is available is often not branded, but rather home brewed liquor. Different ways through which expats find alcohol in Saudi Arabia are brewing it themselves, at some embassy parties and on the black market.

Do hotels serve alcohol in Saudi Arabia? ›

over a year ago. No, alcohol is strictly prohibited in all of Ksa even in hotels. In fact, you're not allowed to enter the country with any, you could get arrested.

Can I carry alcohol in Saudi Airlines? ›

SAUDIA does not serve or permit passengers to carry or drink alcoholic beverages on its flights. To avoid interruption to the aircraft's communication systems SAUDIA strictly prohibits the use of cellular telephones on board.

How many nightclubs are there in Saudi Arabia? ›

Visitors to Saudi Arabia should be aware that there are no legal nightclubs in the country. There are no bars serving alcohol or places where men and women mingle.

Is alcohol halal in Saudi Arabia? ›

Qavi made the comments in an interview with an online portal when he was asked to respond to some fatwa allegedly issued by clerics in Saudi Arabia that beverages containing 40 per cent alcohol or less are halal (permissible).

Does Riyadh have night clubs? ›

There are no bars, clubs, or discotheques like some might find in more Western countries. However, drinks and coffee are available along Tahlia Street, where they have numerous coffee shops and restaurants that cater mostly to singles.

Can you smoke in Saudi Arabia? ›

Smoking is strictly banned in closed spaces, crowded places and malls. Ban advertising tobacco products in supermarkets and groceries, in addition to displaying them in unobtrusive places. The regulation bans shops from selling cigarettes from opened packs and also from selling them to customers under the age of 18.

Can tourists drink alcohol in Dubai? ›

Drinking Is A-OK, in the Right Places

Tourists are permitted to drink in licensed restaurants, hotels and bars attached to licensed hotels. It is unacceptable and punishable to drink in public places—even beaches. Dubai is incredibly strict about public drunkenness and has zero tolerance for drinking and driving.

What is the punishment for drinking alcohol in Saudi Arabia? ›

Alcohol use in Saudi Arabia

Drinking is punishable by public flogging, fines, or lengthy imprisonment, accompanied by deportation in certain cases. Trading in alcohol naturally carries a higher sentence, with harsher punishments for anyone caught selling to Saudi nationals.

Can you wear shorts in Saudi? ›

Conversation. Men wearing shorts in public won't be considered a violation of public decorum in Saudi Arabia except in mosques and government offices, a new amendment to the public decency violations schedule...

Is Viagra allowed in Saudi Arabia? ›

Viagra Usage in Saudi Arabia

You can buy it from any pharmacy over the shelf or online. The purchase of viagra does not require a prescription in Saudi Arabia.

What can you not bring into Saudi Arabia? ›

Saudi law prohibits importation of the following products: weapons, alcohol, narcotics, pork and pork products, pornographic materials, distillery equipment, retreaded or used tires, used clothing and certain sculptures.

Is Saudi a dry airline? ›

As expected, Saudi Arabian Airlines is also completely dry, with alcohol not served or permitted to be brought on board any of its flights. A number of airlines also do not serve alcohol on flights to and from Saudi Arabia, or at least not over Saudi airspace.

Can you drink alcohol at Jeddah airport? ›

Never Bring Illegal Stuff

There are certain rules that no passenger can carry drugs, alcohol, weapon, pork meat, or anything related to pork and Non- Islamic things.

Does Jeddah airport serve alcohol? ›

Many lounges are equipped with comfy seats, free snacks and an assorted selection of alcoholic drinks, spirits and liquors. While lounges are somewhat different, some of its main features are: Food (buffet or snacks), Unlimited drinks, Wi-Fi, Comfy seats, Showers... Book now your stay at Jeddah Airport lounges!

Are drugs legal in Saudi Arabia? ›

Use and possession for personal use of any kind of recreational drugs is most of the time punishable by imprisonment if caught. For foreign citizens, there would generally be more leniency.

What is Saudi Arabia source of income? ›

The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 87% of Saudi budget revenues, 90% of export earnings, and 42% of GDP. Saudi Arabia's oil reserves and production are largely managed by the state-owned corporation Saudi Aramco. Another 40% of GDP comes from the private sector.

Can I drink in Jeddah? ›

Alcohol of any kind is banned in Saudi Arabia. Those who break the law are subject to hundreds of lashes, deportation, fines, or imprisonment.

Can non Muslims drink in Saudi? ›

Saudi law prohibits alcoholic beverages and pork products in the country as they are considered to be against Islam. Those violating the law are handed harsh punishments.

Can Muslims drink beer? ›

It is a well known fact that Muslims don't drink alcohol. It is haraam, forbidden. They don't eat foods with ethanol, they don't wear perfumes containing alcoholic ingredients and they stay away from all forms of intoxicating substances .

Can you drink in Qatar? ›

Alcohol is available only at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system.

Can unmarried couples share a hotel room in Saudi Arabia? ›

Unmarried Saudi couples are not allowed to live together under one roof, neither they are allowed to share a hotel room in KSA. At the time of checking into a hotel, the hotel management is required to obtain the Saudi National IDs of the couple and ensure that the Mahram relation exists between them.

Can you date in Riyadh? ›

Dating in Saudi Arabia is officially illegal (even though some young people do find their way around the restrictions). Avoid spending time with people of the opposite sex in public. Public displays of affection are not allowed and can have serious consequences.

What is dating like in Saudi Arabia? ›

'Dating' in Saudi Arabia generally involves getting to know someone with the prospect of marriage in mind. It is rare for men and women to show open affection in public, and many couples may not be permitted to see one another alone. Therefore, Saudi couples usually meet in neutral public places or online.

Can tourists drink alcohol in Dubai? ›

Drinking Is A-OK, in the Right Places

Tourists are permitted to drink in licensed restaurants, hotels and bars attached to licensed hotels. It is unacceptable and punishable to drink in public places—even beaches. Dubai is incredibly strict about public drunkenness and has zero tolerance for drinking and driving.

Are there night clubs in Saudi Arabia? ›

Although there are no club and bars in the country, still the nightlife in Saudi Arabia is popular, known for its serenity and life after sunset.

Can you smoke in Saudi Arabia? ›

Smoking is strictly banned in closed spaces, crowded places and malls. Ban advertising tobacco products in supermarkets and groceries, in addition to displaying them in unobtrusive places. The regulation bans shops from selling cigarettes from opened packs and also from selling them to customers under the age of 18.

Is Saudi a dry country? ›

Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are completely dry, and there's not a drop of legal alcohol outside diplomatic compounds.

Can u drink alcohol in Qatar? ›

Alcohol is available only at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system.

Is alcohol legal in Iran? ›

Trading and drinking alcohol is illegal in Iran, and those seeking alcoholic drinks often rely on a chain of black market dealers without knowing where and how the drinks are produced. The dealers themselves are often not sure of the source of the alcohol.

Can unmarried couples stay in hotels in Dubai? ›

Sexual relationships or unmarried couples cohabiting is illegal in Dubai. Cohabiting, including in hotels, is also illegal, however most hotels in Dubai do not enforce an 'only married couples' rule. The luxury hotels which mostly cater to foreigners are especially relaxed.

Are drugs legal in Saudi Arabia? ›

Use and possession for personal use of any kind of recreational drugs is most of the time punishable by imprisonment if caught. For foreign citizens, there would generally be more leniency.

Can I drink in Jeddah? ›

Alcohol of any kind is banned in Saudi Arabia. Those who break the law are subject to hundreds of lashes, deportation, fines, or imprisonment.

What is Saudi Arabia source of income? ›

The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 87% of Saudi budget revenues, 90% of export earnings, and 42% of GDP. Saudi Arabia's oil reserves and production are largely managed by the state-owned corporation Saudi Aramco. Another 40% of GDP comes from the private sector.

Can I take vape to Saudi? ›

The Ministry of Commerce and Investment officially banned the sale of all e-cigarette or vaping products in September, 2015. Saudi law forbids the sale of such items and considers anyone bringing them in from abroad to be smuggling and, therefore, liable to be fined and have the items confiscated.

Are there cinemas in Saudi Arabia? ›

muvi Cinemas is available in Al Ahsa Mall - Gate(4) & (5), the major commercial center in the Eastern Province of KSA.

How many cigarettes can I bring to Saudi? ›

The Saudi Customs austerities have clarified regulations for bringing in tobacco products. Adult passengers entering Saudi Arabia are allowed to bring with them a maximum of 200 cigarettes, 500 gram of tobacco and 24 cigars.

Can men wear shorts in Saudi? ›

Men wearing shorts in public won't be considered a violation of public decorum in Saudi Arabia except in mosques and government offices, a new amendment to the public decency violations schedule...

Can I wear jeans in Saudi Arabia? ›

Is it permissible to wear jeans in Saudi Arabia? People can wear jeans in Saudi Arabia; however, the top must be long enough to cover the bum.

What is forbidden in Saudi Arabia? ›

Saudi law prohibits importation of the following products: weapons, alcohol, narcotics, pork and pork products, pornographic materials, distillery equipment, retreaded or used tires, used clothing and certain sculptures.

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