rlfj: Blog

Back to rlfj's Blog

Chapter 111

December 31, 2012
Posted at 12:27 pm

Happy New Year! Here's an extra chapter or two. I am diligently writing away, but real life is getting in the way occasionally. I am up to about 129, but need a lot of editing and rewrites on occasion.

I also need some help. If you were a Marine in the late 90s, send me a note. I need some technical assistance.

For some of you, if I didn't respond to your emails, we can blame it on my ISP. I received a lot of error messages a month ago through my email system and when I contacted them (I get great response from them, since I run my company's website through them and have them on speed-dial) found they had a server hacked and got put on some spam lists. They fixed it, but if you missed the response, try sending me the request again.

Quite a few of you commented on my use of the law firm Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe. It's good to know the classics are still appreciated.

I got some very interesting info regarding booze in the Saudi compounds, and Dharan in particular. While one reader stated that booze was readily smuggled in via the diplomatic pouch, another reader reported that you had to be politically connected to get the good stuff that way, and another reported it was ridiculously expensive that way. A more detailed explanation is below, and meshes with most of the info I was finding on the blogs.

"Re your questions regarding alcoholic beverages in Saudi Arabian compounds, I was in different expat compounds on the Persian Gulf side of Saudi in '74
(Abqaiq), '79 (Al Kobar), '85 (Daharan) and '02 (Al Jubail).

During the earlier times, alcohol was mostly home brewed from anything with sugar in it. The results ranged from good to paint remover and were universally called saddiqui (friend). In order to increase the alcohol content through distillation, the brew required a lot of heating, usually with propane burners. Heating 190 proof alcohol inside a closed house or garage with an open flame is downright dangerous. Enough compound homes were burned down during this process that fire insurance became almost unobtainable.

In the early '80's, outside entrepreneurs took over the brewing and the risk. It was possible to order lemonade (white wine), pink lemonade (rose'), red lemonade, fuzzy lemonade (beer) or siddiqui (hard liqueur) from local TCN's by a simple phone call. Delivery was to your door inside the compound in spite of the ever watchful Muttawa (religious police) at the gate.

In 1986, the King Fahd causeway opened, linking Daharan with Bahrain where all kinds of alcoholic beverages are readily available on the open market. It was easy and safe to have a weekend bender in Bahrain without the risk of having the forbidden alcohol in your home. This drastically reduced the profitability and need for both home brew and smuggling.

After the first Iraqi war in 1991, the US military was getting thousands of container shipments per month in Saudi. More than a few of them contained high quality booze and that became available on the open market, for a price. The difference between the quality of the imports versus the home brew put many siddiqui brewers out of business."

Thanks very much to pharang for this great explanation. I think I am leaving my section as it was written. The time frame for that reference would be the late 70s and early 80s.