US embassy cable - 09JEDDAH443 (original version)

UNDERGROUND PARTY SCENE IN JEDDAH: SAUDI YOUTH FROLIC UNDER "PRINCELY PROTECTION" (original version)

Identifier: 09JEDDAH443
Wikileaks: View 09JEDDAH443 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Jeddah
Created: 2009-11-18 16:58:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: SA SCUL SOCI ZR KISL
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
VZCZCXRO1684
RR RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR RUEHROV
DE RUEHJI #0443/01 3221658
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 181658Z NOV 09
FM AMCONSUL JEDDAH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1602
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 8582
RUEHDH/AMCONSUL DHAHRAN 0157
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 JEDDAH 000443 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/ARP, NEA/PPD 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/31/2014 
TAGS: SA, SCUL, SOCI, ZR, KISL 
SUBJECT: UNDERGROUND PARTY SCENE IN JEDDAH: SAUDI YOUTH 
FROLIC UNDER "PRINCELY PROTECTION" 
 
REF: A. JEDDAH 0292 
     B. JEDDAH 0079 
 
JEDDAH 00000443  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: Consul General Martin R. Quinn for reasons 1.4 (b) and ( 
d) 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  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, such as a Halloween event attended by ConGenOffs 
on October 29.  Over the past few years, the increased 
conservatism of Saudi Arabia's external society has pushed 
the nightlife and party scene in Jeddah even further 
underground.  End summary. 
 
Elite party like the rest of the world, 
--------------------------------------- 
just underground 
----------------- 
 
2.  (C)  Along with over 150 young Saudis (men and women 
mostly in their 20's and early 30's), ConGenOffs accepted 
invitations to an underground Halloween party at Prince 
Faisal al Thunayan's (protect) residence in Jeddah on October 
29.  Inside the gates, past the Nigerian security guards and 
after the abaya coat-check, 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, Kizz-Me, a U.S.-based energy-drink company that now 
distributes out of Saudi Arabia, as well as from the princely 
host himself. 
 
Royalty, attended by "khawi," keep religious police at bay 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
 
3.  (C)  Religious police/CPVPV (Commission for the Promotion 
of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) were nowhere to be seen and 
while admission was controlled through a strictly-enforced 
guest list, the partygoers were otherwise not shy about 
publicizing the affair.  According to a young Saudi from a 
prominent Jeddah merchant family, the Saudis try to throw 
parties at princes' houses or with princes in attendance, 
which serves as sufficient deterrent to interference by the 
CPVPV.  There are over 10,000 princes in the Kingdom, albeit 
at various levels and gradations -- "Royal Highnesses" 
("Saheb Al Sumou Al Maliki") signified by direct descent from 
King Abdulaziz, and mere "Highnesses" ("Saheb Al Sumou") from 
less direct branches of the Al Saud ruling family.  Our host 
that evening, "His Highness" Faisal al Thunayan (protect), 
traces his roots to Thunayan, a brother of Mohammad, Amir of 
Diriyyah and Nejd (1725-65), King Abdullah's direct ancestor, 
six generations back.  Although Prince Faisal is considered a 
second-tier "Cadet" prince, not in line for the throne, he 
still enjoys the perks of a mansion, luxury car, lifetime 
stipend, and security entourage.  (Note: Most of the prince's 
security forces were young Nigerian men.  It is common 
practice for Saudi princes to grow up with hired bodyguards 
from Nigeria or other African nations who are of similar age 
and who remain with the prince well into adulthood.  They are 
called "khawi," derived from the Arabic word "akh," meaning 
"brother."  The lifetime spent together creates an intense 
bond of loyalty.  End note.) 
 
Availability of black market alcohol, prostitutes, and drugs 
--------------------------------------------- --------------- 
 
4.  (C)  Alcohol, though strictly prohibited by Saudi law and 
custom, was plentiful at the party's well-stocked bar, 
well-patronized by Halloween revellers.  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. 
 
JEDDAH 00000443  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
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. 
 
5.  (C)  Comment:  Saudi youth get to enjoy relative social 
freedom and indulge fleshly pursuits, but only behind closed 
doors -- and only the rich.  Parties of this nature and scale 
are believed to be a relatively recent phenomenon in Jeddah. 
One contact, a young Saudi male, explained that up to a few 
years ago, the only weekend activity was "dating" inside the 
homes of the affluent in small groups.  It is not uncommon in 
Jeddah for the more lavish private residences to include 
elaborate basement bars, discos, entertainment centers and 
clubs.  As one high society Saudi remarked, "The increased 
conservatism of our society over these past years has only 
moved social interaction to the inside of people's homes." 
End comment. 
QUINN 

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