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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia beheads more people for hashish

Saudi Arabia executed one of its own citizens and two Yemenis last week. The two Yemeni nationals had been accused of smuggling hashish into the kingdom. The Saudi national had been convicted of smuggling amphetamines, as reported by Agence France Presse.

Hash, or hashish, is made from compressed marijuana trichomes.

Marijuana laws take a new turn in Middle East

Recently Mexico became one of the few countries to legalize marijuana cultivation and possession, joining Bangladesh, Colombia, Uruguay, and others. But in some regions, most specifically the Middle East, there is a set of strict laws when it comes to cannabis possession or cultivation.

Marijuana or cannabis is not specifically banned in Islam but its effects have been likened to alcohol, which is banned by the religion, that’s why its ban is so widespread in the Islamic countries for religious reason.

Britain’s £13m overseas war on drugs ‘could be helping fund executions’

Richard Branson and former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald lead call for inquiry into Home Office’s support for anti-narcotics operations

Thirty-seven public figures, including Sir Richard Branson, Lord Macdonald QC, the former director of public prosecutions, and Alistair Carmichael, the former Scottish secretary, have called for an urgent inquiry into the UK’s role in anti-narcotics operations abroad, which they say have helped to fund executions in countries such as Pakistan and Iran.

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Saudi Arabia Opens Its Borders To Tourists But Not Cannabis

Participants attend the launch of the new tourism visa in Ad Diriyah, a Unesco-listed heritage site, . [+] outside Riyadh on September 27, 2019. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP)

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced today that it would open up its borders and provide tourist visas upon arrival at the airport to visitors from 49 countries, including the UK, US, Canada, and Australia.

In another unprecedented move, the kingdom will not force female visitors to wear a body-shrouding abaya –the black, loose-fitting garb culturally worn by some adherents to the Muslim faith, that is still mandatory for Saudi women to wear in public.

Analysts interpret this as a significant step forward for an ultra-conservative kingdom that is traditionally shrouded in mystery, as part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil.

The kingdom’s reforms, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud, known by his nickname MBS, are seen as a public relations push designed to combat his sinking reputation in the wake of the grisly murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

A Saudi native, Khashoggi was openly critical of MBS, which is rumored to have infuriated the Crown Prince. He allegedly ordered a hit squad to ambush and murder the dissident, prompting some Twitter users to swiftly nickname the heir to the Saudi throne, “Mohammad Bone Saw.”

In the wake of the murder’s swift condemnation on the world stage, MBS purportedly failed to understand the backlash. Although, a year after the gruesome slaying, he admits that it happened, “under his watch.”

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Combine a brazen assassination with a disastrous Saudi-led war in Yemen that created a humanitarian crisis —millions of refugees are teetering on the brink of starvation— and the anniversary of the Sept 11th attacks stirring up fresh resentment, the kingdom’s popularity is at an all-time low.

Opening up the country to tourism may be a way to boost the country’s image and its economy. However, curious tourists should not expect Riyadh to become the new Dubai any time soon. The kingdom is still vastly conservative.

While progressive reforms are taking place –the ban on women driving cars in the sovereign nation was lifted in June 2018– drug policy reform does not appear to be on the table or even open for discussion.

The use and possession of cannabis are illegal in Saudi Arabia. Use and possession for personal use of any recreational drugs are often punishable by imprisonment. For Saudi citizens, there is supposedly some leniency.

“Citizens caught abusing drugs are encouraged into treatment programs,” says Abdallah al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Nations.

Imprisonment for personal use of cannabis could garner one to six months of imprisonment with or without whippings for first-time offenders.

Imprisonment for drug dealing can range between two to ten years in prison plus whippings. Repeated offenses and smuggling excessive quantities of drugs usually result in harsher sentences or even the death penalty.

Saudi Arabia routinely executes hashish dealers. The country beheads approximately 150 people per year. Drug-related executions comprise roughly 40 percent of those deaths. While the majority of capital punishment applies to narcotics traffickers, cannabis-related killings take place as well.

According to Al Jazeera, in 2014, the kingdom beheaded four men accused of smuggling “large quantities of cannabis.”

Public beheadings occur in Deera Square, central Riyadh, known locally as “Chop-chop square.”

Foreigners who get caught with personal amounts of cannabis might be removed from the country and have their visas revoked. Anyone from the 49 qualifying, newly-approved countries who plan on visiting Saudi Arabia are advised not to bring in or use cannabis or hashish in the kingdom.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced today that it would open up its borders and provide tourist visas upon arrival at the airport to 49 countries.