Alcohol is illegal in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, but that doesn't stop people from drinking.
Although punishments for trafficking and consuming alcohol can be severe, including hundreds of lashes, imprisonment and deportation, expats – and many locals – continue to consume liquor regularly throughout both countries.
We talked to several individuals who live or have previously lived in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to understand a bit more about how people obtain and consume alcohol under such stringent regulations.
They told us about their dads brewing alcohol in bathrooms, their mothers buying supplies to make wine, drunken yacht parties and how compounds for foreigners are often flowing with alcohol.
"I have an apartment beside mine in the other building. Every weekend they have a party and they go down from the apartment drunk and sometimes they have fights," an Egyptian woman who resides in Kuwait told StepFeed.
She explained that even though the police may come, they "don't do a thing because the person who owns the apartment is a well known Kuwaiti."
"No one puts his or her hands on him or the apartment or the alcohol, he is well connected," she said.
Another male expat who lives in Kuwait told StepFeed that there are three main ways to get alcohol in the country. People usually obtain liquor through contacts or friends who work at embassies, from a secret black market run by smugglers (which is very expensive) or from people who make it at home, he said.
The Egyptian woman also explained that her mother regularly makes wine.
"My mom makes red wine," she said, adding that it's easy to do at home. She added that you just take grape juice, add sugar and put it aside for several months.
When asked if she worried about her or her family getting caught with alcohol, the woman said "no," since it's always at home. But she admitted, if they were to be caught, it would be a major problem.
"[My mom] will go to jail if she ever got caught," she said.
A young Lebanese man who spent part of his childhood in Saudi Arabia, and still has numerous family members living and working in the country, said that his relatives got alcohol from the embassy.
"My aunt used to work for [a foreign embassy] and would bring alcohol home," he said.
Numerous current and former Arab expats in the kingdom said it's common for people to make the traditional Levantine liquor – arak – in their compound homes. They explained that the police do not enter the compounds to check, and Saudis rarely visit these areas.
"We always have cocktails at pool parties or on yachts," one Lebanese woman said. "It's really a different reality from what people think about Saudi Arabia."
Another Arab expat, who now lives in a GCC country where alcohol is permitted, said his fridge was always full of Heineken and Jack Daniels when he lived in Riyadh.
"I loved it. I partied all the time and I would move back tomorrow for the right job," he said, explaining that there's a lot more to daily life in the kingdom than its conservative reputation.
While many expats seem unconcerned about getting caught consuming or making alcohol, those who do get caught can face severe penalties.
In 2015, the BBC reported on a 74-year-old expat who had spent more than a year in a Saudi prison. He was originally sentenced to receive 360 lashes as well, but these were spared because of his age and poor health. Individuals who traffic alcohol in the kingdom can technically be sentenced to death.
Despite the threat of death, traffickers have found creative ways to smuggle alcohol into the country. A shipment of 48,000 cans of Heineken beer disguised with Pepsi labels was discovered by customs agents in 2015. The truck carrying the load was stopped at Al Batha crossing between the UAE and the kingdom, after a peeling label made one agent curious.
Saudi authorities will definitely make the effort to go after suspected partiers and drinkers, not just traffickers.
Last December, a video of male and female students at a house party went viral. Authorities carefully analyzed the footage to identify the individuals and make arrests. A Jordanian and three Lebanese suspects were apprehended.
Arrests are occasionally made at raucous house parties in Kuwait as well. More than 80 people were arrested at one house party back in 2014, due to the presence of alcohol and drugs. In a similar incident, some 30 party-goers were detained at a party in 2015 for drinking and "debauchery."
So, while it may be common to drink in both countries, especially among expats, it always comes with a significant risk.