Saudi Guards Find 48,000 Cans of Pepsi Actually Beer
Legally, alcohol is banned in Saudi Arabia. In reality,
however, there are people in the country who drink. If you're wondering how exactly they actually get that alcohol, consider the multiple reports in the Saudi press yesterday that describe how the Saudi guards at the border with the United Arab Emirates caught a man with 48,000 cans of Heineken - all disguised as Pepsi cola.
"A truck carrying what first seemed to be normal cans of the soft drink Pepsi was stopped and after the standard process of searching the products, it became clear that the alcoholic beers were covered with Pepsi's sticker logos," Al Batha border general manager Abdulrahman al-Mahna was quoted as saying, according to Al Arabiya News.
This isn't the first time smugglers have gone to
inventive measures to get alcohol into Saudi Arabia, which is known for its
strict espousal of Sunni Islam, including harsh punishments such as public
beheadings, and its restrictions on women. Just a couple of months ago, a Saudi
man was caught on the border with Bahrain with 12 bottles of liquor sewed into
his trousers, and Saudi authorities recently found more than 19,000 bottles of
alcoholic drinks hidden in a shipment of rice and tomato paste.
As silly as that sounds, the punishment for smuggling
alcohol can be severe. Saudi citizens - and sometimes foreigners, too - can be
sentenced to prison and floggings if they are caught.
The World Health Organisation estimates that the rate of
alcohol consumption per capita in Saudi Arabia is 0.2 litres per adult, one of
the lowest in the world. However, given almost all of this drinking happens
illicitly, this estimate may be inaccurate.