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Thu 15 Jul 2010 06:43 AM

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UAE spend on alcohol up 30% since 2005 - study

Euromonitor Int'l says policing of consumption failing to curb rise in parts of region.

Tough policing of alcohol consumption in parts of the Middle East is failing to curb a rise in drinking and may be spurring a rise in illicit trade, research firm Euromonitor has said.

In its latest sector report, the firm said per capita consumption of alcoholic drinks in the UAE has spiked 30 percent in the last five years, despite tight restrictions on sales and an almost complete ban on advertising.

In Saudi Arabia, consumption has almost doubled since 2004, analysts said.

“The barriers are almost uniform. Special permits are sometimes required for consumers to purchase alcoholic drinks, while punitive taxation and the semi-secretive nature of the establishments make them extremely hard to monitor,” the report said.

“[Yet] per capita consumption of alcoholic drinks in the United Arab Emirates leapt to 30 litres in 2009, up from 23 litres back in 2004. In Saudi Arabia… the figure is almost double the 2.6 litres consumed in 2004.”

The sale of alcohol is strictly monitored in a number of Middle Eastern countries, including Algeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

However, there is evidence these tough curbs are encouraging a black market trade in alcohol to flourish, the report said.

“Approximately 30 percent of alcohol sales in Algeria stemmed from the black market in 2009, an eye-watering figure that can partially be attributed to the forced closure of over 1,000 alcohol stores,” analysts said. “This is not by any means an exception.

“Government efforts to inhibit the sale of legally-produced alcohol products are proving counterintuitive, hindering their attempts to combat contraband trade.”

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alex 9 years ago

How on earth can Euromonitor have figures for alcohol consumption in a country where alcohol is completely illegal? And with a population of 28 million and 5.6 litres apparently consumed per capita, how on earth is 156 million litres of alcohol be smuggled into Saudi each year? To put in context, an average supertanker carries 2 million barrels of oil (approx 316,000,000 litres) so if these figures are right 50% of the capacity of a supertanker of booze is smuggled into Saudi each year? Seems doubtful.

Peter 9 years ago

Have you been to Saudi? I've lived there. It doesn't seem doubtful to me. (I would add further details but I suspect AB would censor it!)

Dastagir 9 years ago

The monetary benefits from the sale of alcohol is limited to some people only and the negative effects due to the usage is very high even the usage benefits the authorities. The usage of alcohol increases crimes,traffic accidents,breakage of family lives,etc.... It is better to impose a total ban on it, the sooner,the better. We needn't get data on the per capita consumption of alcohol usage for a ban on it.

Greer 9 years ago

As you can see from the figures in the survey - bans dont stop it, they simply force it underground - then everyone loses - it increases contraband, and all the very nasty and negative things associated with smuggling, it criminalises what is seen throughout the rest of the world as a social issue, and it totally removes government control and as a side issue, they dont get the taxes on the sales any more either...all round a great outcome...if you cant think. You need to educate people and put in place controls on drink-driving, and maybe on the locations in which one can sell or consume alcohol. This prevents or limits the illegal trade, and allows sensible and moderate usage of alcohol. If your religion does not allow it, and one respects their religion, then having alcohol around is of no consequence to you, as you should not want to consume it in any case. If it must be banned by the government, how strong are the convictions of those who drink, as they obviously dont respect the rules of their own religion. Prohibition in the USA caused all sorts of social problems, and it is obvious that it doesnt work at all in Saudi, so why not take a responsible stance, and educate, and control... a much better and more effective weapon.

Telco guy 9 years ago

@Dastagir, I am very interested in your post. Do you have any figures to back it up? For example, you link "usage" of alcohol to car accidents, and it is true, that in Europe most people involved in car accidents had consumed alcohol (that is why you get fined/arrested if you drive under influence), how can you explain that in this region, where most people do not drink alcohol deaths by car accidents are some of the highest in the world? And about crime, do you have any numbers to back up your claims? Is less crime here than say Sweden/Norway or Switzerland? really? I can respect that you have have a moral/religious dislike of alcohol, but i think it would be good if people start to be more objective about "figures". Anyhow i doubt this one will pass