It is no secret that backpackers are renouned for having a drink and a good time whilst gallavanting around the world discovering and exploring many different places and cultures. However, it is advisable that backpackers and travellers be aware of other cultures customs and laws. Thus, a little bit of research on backpacking information and travel information is highly recommended prior to waltzing on into foreign lands unaware of their local customs and laws.

We would therefore like to touch on the issues of drinking alcohol in some of the worlds worst drinking countries which can provide for a good source of backpacking information on these issues.

Prohibition or prohibition of alcohol is generally a law that either restricts or prohibits manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, service, and consumption of drinks with alcoholic content. These provisions may vary per country so here is vital information that could spare the traveller from some serious trouble. In the present times, if X=Islamic State, and Islamic State=No Alcohol, then X= Worst Place for Drunks.

8. Brunei

Brunei is an Islamic State, which in layman’s term mean simply, alcohol is banned. But as tabloid favourite Prince Azim drinks like a mad-thirsty camel after a traverse in the Arab Desert, it seems quite hypocritical. Selling alcohol is generally barred, and the traveller will find locating liquor stores a task…if there are any. Some hotels may carry spirits of sorts. A traveller is thus allowed to carry 12 cans of beer and two spirits of other sorts possibly bought outside Brunei. At any rate, no major sanctions exist for the violator.

7. United Arab Emirates

One tends to think, if alcohol is banned, how can I fully enjoy my stay? Islamic practices ascertain a no alcohol policy for Muslims, but to non-Muslims too? Let’s clarify. Sharjah imposes a no special conditions, all out prohibition on alcohol, with exemptions on Duty Free and a social club, the Sharjah Wanderers. Elsewhere, non-Muslims can have access to alcohol at bars or liquor stores any time. Restrictions on purchase of alcohol are exercised for non-Muslim individuals with UAE residence permits, who are required to have a “liquor license” to be approved by your employer, at least according to law.

Although nobody really checks licences in hotels and restos, liquor stores do random checks to be sure, especially if you’re looking too familiar. After all, there are but one or two liquor stores, like in Dubai.

6. Qatar

Alcohol is “restricted” by and large to sales in hotels and bars. Similarly, for expats with Qatar residence permits necessitate a liquor license to purchase alcohol. Qatar Laws also prohibit bringing in alcohol to the country and drinking in public. Violation of Qatar’s alcohol restrictions is a punishable offense such as jail time or deportation. For tourists, sanctions are lighter and may possibly involve a simple warning or confiscation, at the airport, for instance, which, with a reclaim form valid for 2 weeks, can be retrieved on exit from the country.

5. Kuwait

No ALCOHOL! Kuwaitis mean it. Muslim or non-Muslims, alcohol is strictly illegal. No importing, manufacturing, serving in hotels or bars, or consumption. It is quite serious because they do bust budding distilleries and talk about it on the news. Nonetheless, the rebellious will rebel. There are some expat restaurants that serve a special brew or tea. The good news: no corporal punishments.

4. Iran

Alcohol consumption and production is a soft crime in Iran. Violators, when caught by police, are meted with harsh penalties. Brews for personal consumption are allowed for officially recognized non-Muslims sects, especially for celebrations and religious rites as in communion, albeit begrudgingly. For Muslims, repeated convictions may lead to the ultimate punishment, the death penalty. For the creator of wine and distilled spirits, it is a little odd and a bit too steep.

3. Palestinian Territories

Drinking alcohol is literally banned, but a few free-spirited Jewish settlements don’t give a lot of crap. Watering holes are present in Jewish settlements, although business is done with limit and secrecy. No extreme harm is due to the bacchanals, but to independent store owners…yes. Suppliers or alcohol stores are destroyed, stoned, and burned down by Muslim fundamentalists who are not open to the idea of what is to them “disrespect” to Islam. Let it be said that non-Muslims, need I mention Jews, have more to worry than prohibition? To credit, Palestinian beer is just too good to stop selling.

2. Saudi Arabia

Although Iran’s death penalty is horrifying, sanctions do not extend to non-Muslims and tourists. Thus, Saudi Arabia tops the list primarily because the alcohol-slash-drinking ban is very heavily imposed with ultra major sanctions, last I heard. Home brews are allowed to some extent, but in secret and in minor quantities. Still don’t get caught because things will get uuugly. For a little happy time, it’s either weeks to months of jail time, public flogging time, or it’s high time to go back home. For a not-so-instant gratification, it will cost a 90 -minute drive down to the party centre Bahrain. And when you do, leave the bottle in Bahrain. Take it or leave it.

1. Libya

The alcohol ban in Libya is possibly the most serious one. Even personal/private brews are heavily and totally discouraged. In this case, tourist or local, corporal punishment for violation of prohibition laws applies. Although a local black market makes alcoholic beverages accessible, tourists ought to reconsider, if not for respect for laws, for safety precautions. Some of these brews unknown to the traveller may be dangerous as to cost your life. These could contain impurities that have not been filtered.

Other Muslim countries have no bans on alcohol like Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt, while they may have some special customs. I know for Turkey, drinking on the streets or in public is a disgrace. Drinking during the Ramadan, even by non-Muslims, is downright disrespectful. In the end, it’s not about loopholes and escaping punishment. It’s all about respect to a country’s laws and traditions, customs and sensitivities, ain’t it? Alright, it’s also about the sanctions.

As previously mentioned prior research on backpacking information and travel information of your intended destinations is highly recommended by us here at Backpacking Addictz.


Backpacking Addictz is a website set up by backpackers for the use of backpackers. On this site you will find a lot of very valuable information surrounding different destinations around the world and tips and advice on budget travel and backpacking. You will also find an enthusiastic and insightful backpacking blog which is regularly updated with new posts and article.

Backpacking Addictz Travel eGuides are a fantastic, cheap and easy way to get hold of a vast amount of backpacking information prior to setting off on your backpacking adventure.

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