According to a November 2009 cable from the American Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, put online by Wikileaks on Tuesday, the elite young people there “party like the rest of the world.”

“Behind the facade of Wahabi conservatism in the streets, the underground nightlife for Jeddah’s elite youth is thriving and throbbing. The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available — alcohol, drugs, sex — but strictly behind closed doors. This freedom to indulge carnal pursuits is possible merely because the religious police keep their distance when parties include the presence or patronage of a Saudi royal and his circle of loyal attendants…”

Jeddah is on the coast of the Red Sea and is the major urban center of western Saudi Arabia. It is the largest port on the Red Sea and second largest city in Saudi Arabia. The population is about 3.4 million.

The party scene has recently been pushed further underground due to a recent increase in religious conservatism, the cable reads.

On Halloween 2009, Consulate employees attended a party with more than 150 young Saudis, mostly in their 20s and 30s, at a house of a Saudi prince.

“…the scene resembled a nightclub anywhere outside the Kingdom: plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables, and everyone in costume. Funding for the party came from a corporate sponsor, XXXXXXa U.S.-based energy-drink company as well as from the princely host himself,” the cable reads.

The party was under a strict guest list, and Saudi religious police, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, were nowhere to be found.

Young people try to throw these kinds of parties at the house of a Saudi prince or elsewhere as long as a prince attends. There are more than 10,000 Saudi princes, so finding one is not difficult.

The cable also says that drugs and prostitutes were readily available.

Alcohol, though strictly prohibited by Saudi law and custom, was plentiful at the party’s well-stocked bar, well-patronized by Halloween revellers. (SIC) The hired Filipino bartenders served a cocktail punch using “sadiqi,” a locally-made “moonshine.” While top-shelf liquor bottles were on display throughout the bar area, the original contents were reportedly already consumed and replaced by sadiqi. On the black market, a bottle of Smirnoff can cost 1,500 riyals when available, compared to 100 riyals for the locally-made vodka. It was also learned through word-of-mouth that a number of the guests were in fact “working girls,” not uncommon for such parties. Additionally, though not witnessed directly at this event, cocaine and hashish use is common in these social circles and has been seen on other occasions.

“Saudi youth get to enjoy relative social freedom and indulge fleshly pursuits, but only behind closed doors — and only the rich,” the cable reads toward the bottom.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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