I have a friend working in diplomacy somewhere in the Middle East and we were talking a few days ago about about the arab lifestyle… at some point I asked him about wines and alcohol and I was surprised to find out that there are some families controlling the limited legal sales while there is a huge black market for all kind of smuggled merchandise. He told me that Islam prohibits the drinking and even the handling of alcoholic beverages.
I was a little surprised to hear this and I wanted to find out more. Here is what I found on Wikipedia:
Saudi Arabia completely bans the production, importation or consumption of alcohol and imposes strict penalties on those violating the ban, including weeks to months of imprisonment, and possible lashes, as does Kuwait. During the Gulf War in 1991, the Coalition banned its troops in Saudi Arabia from drinking alcohol in order to show respect for local beliefs.
Qatar bans the importation of alcohol and it is a punishable offense to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. Offenders may incur a prison sentence or deportation. Alcohol is, however, available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system.
The United Arab Emirates restricts the purchase of alcohol from a liquor store to non-Muslim foreigners who have residence permits and who have an Interior Ministry liquor license. However bars, clubs, and other establishments with liquor licenses do not face the same restrictions. Alcohol was first permitted in Bahrain, known to be the most progressive Persian Gulf state and the earliest to prosper, popular with those crossing the causeway from Saudi Arabia.
Non-Muslims may bring small quantities of alcohol into Brunei for personal consumption.
Iran began restricting alcohol consumption and production soon after the 1979 Revolution, with harsh penalties meted out for violations of the law. However, there is widespread violation of the law. Officially recognized non-Muslim minorities are allowed to produce alcoholic beverages for their own private consumption and for religious rites such as the Eucharist.
Alcohol was banned in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban. In the wake of the ousting from power of the Taliban, the ban was lifted for foreigners, who can buy alcohol in certain shops on presentation of their passport to prove they are foreigners.
Ok, I you can’t “oficially” drink something, what can you do when you want to have fun with your friends?
Here is an answer: