Al Khobar is a city in Saudi Arabia which is located in the Eastern Province. Although the city offers many wonderful tourist attractions and nice places to stay, it still has laws that apply not only to its citizens but to tourists as well. Aside from the conservative clothing and women banned from driving, there are also restrictions when it comes to eating and drinking in Al Khobar.
Eating and drinking in Al Khobar is different from Western countries. If you are a Westerner, you may feel frustrated, especially if it’s is your first day in the city or if you are there to have some fun. Al Khobar and the entire Kingdom prohibit consumption of alcohol, as well as eating pork.
Saudi Arabia’s laws are stricter than what is implemented in non-Muslim countries. It is an Islamic Kingdom, wherein every aspect of life is governed by the Islamic Sharia (teachings derived from the Quran).
Aside from drinking alcohol, the law of Saudi Arabia also prohibits manufacturing, smuggling, or distributing alcohol. If you are caught doing any of those, you will be imprisoned for a week or more, depending on the severity of the violation you have omitted. In some cases, public lashing is given as punishment. If smuggling is involved, custom fines may also apply. Even the simplest way of getting involved to alcohol can lead to imprisonment.
Although alcohol is not allowed in Al Khobar and in the entire kingdom, some expats still drink, however, they do it privately. It’s either they know where to get some liquors or they try to make wine inside their compound using grapes or dates. Alcoholic beverages are usually available at some special quarters where diplomatic bags from non-Muslim embassies are no longer checked. Some Saudis also get spirits from neighbouring states, like Bahrain, where bringing in alcohol is easy with the Causeway. Though there is a checkpoint at the border station, many can get away from it without being caught.
You can eat chicken, beef, goat meat, sheep meat and sea foods for as much as you like in Al Khobar, but never ask for pork. Again, this is against the teaching of the Quran. According the Holy book, pigs are considered ‘unclean’ and that eating unclean foods are prohibited. Additionally, they butcher animals in a special way and bless them afterwards. They are allowed to eat the animals only after the ritual. Typical Saudi Arabian foods include shawarma, kebab, mutabbaq, grilled chicken, and Ful medames. Ingredients commonly used in Arabian cuisine are wheat, yoghurt, rice, fava beans, dates, and chicken.
Shopping for food is easy in Al Khobar as it has many western-style supermarkets and grocery stores, such as Crrefour, Danube, and Panda. However, products sold here are usually more expensive than those in Arabic marketplaces where fresh, local produces are available at cheap prices. A good number of food chains, coffee shops, and restaurants are scattered around the city. Included are McDonalds, Star Bucks Chilis, Burger King, and Pizza Hut.
Eating and drinking in Al Khobar is fun. You can try Saudi Arabian cuisines at more affordable prices. As long as you don’t order pork or drink liquor, then there is nothing to worry about.