A Quick Lesson on the Middle Eastern Booze Landscape

While speaking about and consuming alcohol socially or publicly may still be taboo in many muslim nations that’s not to say you can still find some decent spirit or vintages in the middle east. Probably the most traditional alcoholic beverage is the anise-flavored distilled aperitif called Arak, which is popular in parts of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Israel. Much like Pernod and Ricard, it is typically served over ice in tea glasses and topped with water to cloud and dilute it.

Despite the cultural taboo, the entire middle east region has ancestral ties to booze. Beer orginated in Mesopotamia, some historians claim the distillation of spirits began in Egypt and 7000 years ago, Persians were making wine. Today, in addition to Arak, wine, brandy and whiskey are produced in many middle eastern countries. Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Morocco and Turkey do not have a ban on alcohol apart from a standard licensing procedure – basically, some establishments serve booze and some don’t.

Libya, Saudia Arabia, Kuwait and the Hamas controlled Gaza all have a ban on the import, sale and consumption of alcohol that is heavily punishable by law. Certain countries, while having an official ban, overlook the use for non muslims and in countries like the UAE Bahrain and Qatar, foreigners are allowed to buy booze at licensed liquor stores, hotels and some night clubs. Tunisia allows only wine save for tourist zones and Morocco only enforces a ban during Ramadan.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s