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World Travel Guide > Guides > Middle East > Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Food and Drink

Local food is often strongly flavoured and spicy. The most common meats are lamb and chicken, beef is rare and pork is forbidden under Islamic law. The main meat meal of the day is lunch. Foreign cooking is on offer in larger towns and the whole range of international cuisine, including fast food, is available in the oil-producing Eastern Province and in Jeddah.

Specialities

• Pitta bread (flat, unleavened bread) accompanies every dish.
• Rice, lentils, hummus (chick peas) and burghul (cracked wheat) are also common.
Kultra (chicken or lamb on skewers) is popular for lunch.
• Kebabs are often served with soup and vegetables.
• Mezze, the equivalent of hors d'oeuvres, may include up to 40 dishes.

Things to know

Eating, drinking and smoking in public during the fasting hours of Ramadan will incur strict penalties. Restaurants have table service. There are no bars. Alcohol is forbidden by law, and there are severe penalties for infringement; note that this applies to all nationals regardless of religion.

Tipping

The practice of tipping is becoming much more common and waiters should be given 10%.

Regional drinks


Arabic coffee and fruit drinks are popular alternatives to alcohol.
Alcohol-free beers and cocktails are served in hotel bars.