Is Saudi Arabia becoming the drug capital of the Middle East?

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Last Updated on 2 days by Mukesh

In April, a man in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province set his family home on fire before iftar, the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast, causing a gory drug-induced killing that gripped the nation’s media. His family lost four members in the shooting.

As per local newspapers, police claimed he was under the influence of shabu, a methamphetamine. Recent reports in Saudi media have raised concerns about the rise in drug use. One columnist there called the shipments of drugs into the kingdom “an open war against us, more dangerous than any other war.”

As reported by CNN, over 47 million amphetamine pills were discovered concealed in a shipment of flour and discovered in a warehouse on Wednesday, Saudi police claimed the largest drug bust in their nation’s history.

As per experts, Saudi Arabia is increasingly playing the role of the Middle East’s drug capital, fueling demand and emerging as the main destination for traffickers from Syria and Lebanon, as evidenced by the record-breaking seizure. They claim that the kingdom is one of the biggest and wealthiest regional destinations for drugs, and that situation is only getting worse.

The General Directorate of Narcotics Control claims that in terms of the quantity of drugs seized, Wednesday’s operation represented the largest single smuggling attempt. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has previously stated that “reports of amphetamine seizures from countries in the Middle East continue to refer predominantly to tablets bearing the Captagon logo,” despite the fact that authorities failed to identify the drug they seized or the source.

Originally known as Captagon, this medication contained the artificial stimulant fenethylline. As per the European Monitoring Centre for Medications and Drug increaseiction, counterfeit drugs with the name “Captagon” are frequently found in the Middle East even though they are no longer produced officially.

Drug busts in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the area have increased over time. 320 kilogrammes of amphetamine tablets and over 3,000 kilogrammes of hashish worth millions of dollars were taken from a fishing boat in the Gulf of Oman by a US Coast Guard vessel earlier this week.

Although it first gained popularity in the kingdom about 15 years ago, it has grown significantly in the last five years, “perhaps reaching the level of cannabis,” according to Vanda Felbab-Brown, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, who has written on the topic.

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As per data from the International increaseiction Review journal, the street value of captagon, if it was the same substance, could be up to $1.1 billion. The drug may be purchased for between $10 and $25 per pill.

After the government started issuing licences to private businesses, a number of drug rehabilitation facilities have appeared throughout the kingdom in recent years.

As per the CEO of Qaweem, one of the first such facilities to launch, Khalid Al Mashari, four or five such facilities have opened in the previous two years. That proves that the government understands the value of rehabilitation, he claims, but it also demonstrates that the issue is getting worse.

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