World Gangz

Middle East’s Underworld of Drugs

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The Underworld of Middle East Drugs and Crime Activity

In a region of some of the world’s wealthiest communities, like United Arab Emirates, which is home to Dubai, and also some of the world’s poorest communities as war and conflict has devastated numerous neighborhoods across the Middle East, there has been a rise of Middle East drugs and narcotics activities for some time now.

Wealth being shown in the country of United Arab Emirates. Editorial Credit: Rasto SK/

Poverty being shown in the country of Yemen. Editorial Credit: akramalrasny /

While the production of oil has brought billions of dollars into multiple countries of the Middle East, narcotics have also been very profitable, but not nearly as close as the revenue generated from fossil fuels, despite the Middle East drugs usage are steadily increasing.

In a region of warlords, terrorist organizations and constant fighting between rival groups resulting in civil conflicts, with some of the worse turmoil and conflict that the world has seen, expanding over the entire region of the Middle East during multiple decades, the drug world of the Middle East rarely gets any light shed on it.

Image of destruction from ongoing conflicts in Syria. Editorial Credit: Tomas Davidov /

Some of the narcotics that are used in the Middle East may be quite familiar to certain parts of world, but most of the narcotics used are quite different and unfamiliar to just about all parts of the world.

One would think with the extreme and harsh punishments for drug offenses that often leads to life imprisonment or even being sentence to death, as countries like Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s highest execution rates, that there would be no drug problems in the Middle East.

Police in Saudi Arabia. Editorial Credit: Tuah Roslan /

As the strict and dangerous drug laws began to be enforce in some places during the 1980s, with some Middle East countries establishing laws sooner or later, there has been a slow increase in usage and in efforts to distribute, despite how much frowned upon drug usage is within the Muslim world.

The very strict laws in places like Kuwait or Saudi Arabia has not totally stopped the flow of narcotics in and out of the numerous of countries within the Middle East.  While in Iraq, since Saddam Hussein was overthrown, the country has become more lenient by providing users with shorter sentences and rehabilitation, but there has been an increase of narcotics activity in the southern region of the country.

Example of the Middle East Drugs…

Narcotics like captagon pills, which is an amphetamine that provides an adrenaline type of high with the user gaining energy from usage, has become extremely popular to the soldiers and fighters that are involved in the various civil wars and conflicts of the Middle East.

middle east drugs

Narcotics like captagon pills are extremely popular amongst soldiers and fighters. Editorial Credit: quetions123 /

In Lebanon, massive amounts of cannabis plants are grown yearly, preferably in the Beqaa Valley region, which some may consider one of the country’s most lawless region with a close proximity to the Syrian border.  With fertile soil, people of the region are able to grow some of the world’s greatest quality of marijuana, which is often process into hashish.  A multimillion dollar business that has been occurring since the 1970s, if not before, has found distribution routes to all parts of the world, especially Europe.

A drug that seems to be growing all over the world is methamphetamine.  In places like southern Iraq, there has been an increase in methamphetamine usage, which has been occurring over the past couple of decades.  Authorities claim that much of the meth that is trafficked into the country arrives from Iran, in which there is very little defense since there are miles of open borders between the two neighboring countries.

middle east drugs

Image of two citizens from Yemen selling Khat. Editorial Credit: Judith Lienert /

What was once limited in places like the hills of northern Yemen, the narcotic stimulant of Khat, a leafy substance that is applied to the cheek inside the user’s mouth, has been becoming more and more popular in the Middle East, while somewhat becoming an epidemic in the country of Yemen.

The reasons for the rise in the Middle East drugs usage various, some may claim due to alcohol being illegal and forbidden in certain places, others may claim that the massive amounts of poverty, while others may state that conflict and turmoil that been occurring for generations is reason.  There is without a doubt that the Middle East has similar problems that the world is facing.

*Feature Image provided by Abed Rahim Khatib /

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