Alcohol is officially banned in Saudi Arabia- for both locals and expats (unlike other Muslim majority countries where alcohol is allowed for expats e.g. Pakistan or countries where alcohol is served in hotels openly available e.g. Egypt, Bahrain, Dubai etc). The reality on the ground is different and depends on socio-economic status. The vast majority within the country do not drink but those that do always find a way (outside the country is a whole different story).
The Commission for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue (CPVPV) conducts many raids to confiscate alcohol with the target being the working class. Every few days there are reports of locally produced “araq” factories being discovered and raided. The dealers and distributers are always jailed.
The wealthier upper middle and upper class Saudis (including royals) regularly import their alcohol. It is not uncommon to see empty Vodka bottles strewn in the side streets off Tahlia St (main food street) in Riyadh on the weekends. These individuals tend to be above the law based on “wasta” (connections) and “rishwa” (bribery)- basically anything goes.
So what does the average middle class Saudi do? He less likely to brew his own alcohol and he doesn’t have the means to be above the law; his simple solution is going to Bahrain to drink! The Causeway that connects the Kingdom to Bahrain is jam packed on the weekends as Saudis (and expats) rush to their “local Vegas”. The bars are crowded with Saudis “legally” getting drunk; the local traffic is horrible as inebriated youth drive the streets. At the end of the weekend the locals return to their normal lives, some still drunk, many hung over- all waiting for the next weekend.