Alcohol is completely banned in Yemen as it is believed to be against the principles of Islam. Yemenis are not allowed to consume alcohol in the country and the sale of alcohol is illegal in all parts of the country with the exception of Aden and Sana’a where the drink is sold in certain permitted restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs. Foreigners who are non-Muslims are allowed to carry a limited volume of alcohol into the country and drink in their private space.
13. United Arab Emirates (In Sharja)
Alcohol is allowed to be sold under very strict regulations in the emirates of the United Arab Emirates with the exception of Sharja where it is completely banned. In Sharjah, only those possessing an alcohol license (usually non-Muslims) from the government are allowed to possess alcohol. Also, such valid license holders can only consume alcohol within the confines of their home. The consumption, sale or any other form of alcohol use in the public is strictly prohibited and the offenders are subject to imprisonment, flogging or other forms of punishment. In the other emirates of the United Arab Emirates, alcohol is allowed to be sold in restaurants, hotels, or other places where the seller possesses a valid alcohol license. Alcohol consumption is allowed for the non-Muslims but only within their private residences or the hotels and bars they visit. No form of alcohol use and drunken attitude in public places is tolerated in these emirates. Foreign tourists are allowed to bring a limited number of alcohol bottles into the country for their personal use.
In Sudan, a war-torn country in north-east Africa, alcohol is a strict no-no. The Islamist state prohibited the manufacture, sale, and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the country since 1983. The Liquor Prohibition Bill, passed by the Sudan Socialist Union Party, established this mandate in the country. However, the law of alcohol non-consumption is primarily applicable to Muslims of the country. Non-Muslims might consume alcohol within their private quarters. Tourists are however always advised to obey and respect the local rules and customs in Sudan including the laws on alcohol consumption, to avert any unpleasant circumstances.
An Islamic country located in the Horn of Africa, Somalia is very strict when it comes to implementation of alcohol related laws in the country. Here, alcohol manufacture, trade, and consumption is completely banned. Though non-Muslims and visiting foreigners are allowed to consume the intoxicating liquor, they must do so within their private space. Strict punishment is dealt to those who disrespect the Islamic laws within the country.
10. Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s greatest pilgrimage site, Mecca, implies a complete ban on alcohol. It is illegal to manufacture, import, sell, and consume alcohol in the country. Strict checking of baggage at the airport is conducted to ensure no one enters the country with alcohol. Harsh punishments are meted out to those caught selling or drinking alcohol in public. Long-term imprisonment and flogging might be used as modes of punishment. Foreigners are also advised to be extremely cautious regarding this sensitive subject and it is best to abstain oneself from alcoholic drinks when visiting this country.
In Pakistan, alcohol was allowed for three decades since the country’s independence. However, it was completely banned in the country during the rule of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and after his removal from office in 1977, the ban continued. Currently, though Muslims are not allowed to brew, sell or consume alcohol within the country, the non-Muslim minorities are allowed to apply for alcohol permits. The permits are often granted based on an individual’s economic stature. Usually, 5 bottle of liquor and 100 bottles of beer is the monthly grant to the non-Muslims in the country.
In the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in Western North Africa, Muslim residents of the country are barred from alcohol possession, consumption, sale and production. However, non-Muslims are allowed to consume alcohol in their homes or in places like hotels and restaurants that have valid permits to sell alcohol.
In the Maldives, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean and a popular tourist destination, well known for its world-class beaches and exotic resorts, alcohol is banned for the local population. In the country, only the resorts and some hotels and restaurants with special permits are allowed to sell alcohol to the visitors to Maldives.
Travelers to Libya are advised to respect the local customs and regulations. Alcohol laws in the country are quite strict and alcohol sale and consumption is banned completely. Strict punishments are meted out to those who disrespect the laws and publicly sell or consume alcohol. However, there are reports that alcohol is readily available to the people in the country through illegal means.
In Kuwait, the sale, consumption and possession of alcohol is banned by law. The country has zero-tolerance policy for those who drink and drive. Even if small amounts of alcohol is detected in the driver’s system, the offender will be heavily punished. Alcohol use in public places is strictly prohibited and might lead to imprisonment or deportation of foreigners.
In Iran, alcohol consumption is prohibited for its Muslim citizens. However, the law is relaxed in case of the non-Muslims who are allowed to manufacture and consume alcohol under certain terms and conditions. Non-Muslims entering the country are allowed to carry alcohol with them.
3. India (In Certain States)
In India, the rules and regulations related to sale, possession, and consumption of alcohol is a state matter. Some states in the country like Gujarat, Nagaland, and, more recently, Bihar, have strictly banned the sale and consumption of alcohol within the state’s boundaries. In Manipur and Lakshadweep, alcohol is banned locally in some areas. Kerala also has some restrictions imposed on the sale and consumption of alcohol. In other states of India, there is no ban on alcohol. In a few states, a dry day is observed during special festivals while the entire nation observes dry days during elections or some national holidays like Gandhi Jayanti (the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi).
In Brunei, a sovereign state in Southeast Asia, alcohol consumption in public places and sale of the same is banned. Non-Muslim adults entering the country might, however, import 2 bottles of liquor and 12 beer cans per person as they enter the country. They need to declare the same to the customs at the airport and also consume alcohol only in private.
In Bangladesh, alcohol consumption and sale is prohibited. However, the non-Muslims residing in the country or visiting the country are not subject to such restrictions as long as they confine their alcohol consumption to their private spaces. Some restaurants, night-clubs, hotels, and bars in the country, especially those in tourist destinations, are allowed to sell alcohol.
Where is Alcohol Illegal?
Countries where alcohol is partially or fully banned include Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.
About the Author
Oishimaya is an Indian native, currently residing in Kolkata. She has earned her Ph.D. degree and is presently engaged in full-time freelance writing and editing. She is an avid reader and travel enthusiast and is sensitively aware of her surroundings, both locally and globally. She loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.
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