WikiLeaks: The raucous underground lifestyle of young Saudi royals
Raucous underground parties with plentiful supplies of alcohol, drugs and prostitutes have become the norm for Saudi Arabia's privileged youth, according to a leaked cable from the US consulate in Jeddah.
In what could prove one of the most provocative disclosures from the WikiLeaks trove of State Department documents, an account of a Halloween party last year provides a rare glimpse into the Islamic kingdom's secret social scene.
"Behind the facade of Wahhabi 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," read the cable, which is dated November 18, 2009.
Consular officials attended the party in Jeddah at the mansion of a young prince, whose name was removed from the cable released by the website. Though not in line for the throne, the host was among thousands of princes who enjoy a state purse, round-the-clock security and sufficient clout to prevent the feared religious police from spoiling their fun.
There was no trace of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice as about 150 young men and women in their 20s and 30s attended the party, leaving their prohibitive local attire at the cloakroom to reveal their party clothes underneath.
"The scene resembled a nightclub anywhere outside the Kingdom: plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables, and everyone in costume," said the cable.
Alcohol is strictly forbidden throughout Saudi Arabia, while typical convictions for drug possession include public flogging and long jail sentences.
A young Saudi male contact told an official: "The increased conservatism of our society over these past years has only moved social interaction to the inside of people's homes."