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Which Spices Are Popular in Saudi Arabia?

As a conservative Islamic country, Saudi Arabia is known for its strict adherence to certain codes of behavior, including well-known clothing mandates and severe restrictions during the holy month of Ramadan. Food figures prominently in the legal system. Pork, for example, is banned. And while that might not come as a surprise, Saudi Arabia's complete ban of the common kitchen spice nutmeg probably does. Nutmeg is considered to be an intoxicant because in very large doses, such as a tablespoon or two, it can lead to hallucinations, in addition to nausea and dizziness. According to the Journal of Medical Toxicology, nutmeg can even cause fatal myristicin poisoning. For those reasons, Saudi Arabia considers nutmeg to be a narcotic, and since all narcotics are illegal, nutmeg is not allowed anywhere in the country, except as a minor ingredient in pre-mixed spice blends.

Be on your best behavior:

  • It is illegal to take pictures of palaces, government buildings, and military installations in Saudi Arabia.

  • Movie theaters were banned in Saudi Arabia for 35 years; the government finally relented in April 2018, with the opening of an AMC cinema in Riyadh.

  • Valentine's Day is not celebrated in Saudi Arabia, where concerns about being led astray have led the country to ban the sale of red roses and heart-shaped items on that day.

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