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Saudi minister says region has seen ‘explosive growth’ in synthetic drugs 

September 19, 2023 at 3:07 pm

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud [Haydar Şahin/Anadolu Agency]

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal Bin Farhan warned yesterday against the rise of synthetic drugs in the Middle East.

“We have seen an explosive growth in synthetic drugs in our part of the world and we are seeing very, very deteriorating effects on our societies. This is galvanising our engagement on the issue,” said Bin Farhan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

In particular, the diplomat highlighted the dangers of methamphetamine which has become popular in the Kingdom and other countries in the region. The Saudi authorities have been grappling with these narcotics and the amphetamine Captagon, which is manufactured in Syria. As reported by Al Arabiya, the Saudi crackdown on drug smuggling has resulted in millions of Captagon pills being seized and destroyed.

An article last year noted that an estimated 7 or 8 per cent of Saudis abuse drugs in the age range 12 to 22 years. Methamphetamine, Captagon, tramadol, heroin and cannabis/cannabinoids have been proven to be the most commonly abused drugs in the country, with methamphetamine topping the list.

Acknowledging the “utmost urgency” of the issue, the Saudi foreign minister added: “We are gravely concerned about the public health and social harms associated with non-medical consumption of synthetic drugs and the challenges associated with illicit manufacture, diversion trafficking and related crimes.”

Last September, CNN reported that Saudi Arabia is fast becoming the “drug capital” of the Middle East, driving demand and becoming the primary destination for smugglers from Syria and Lebanon. As part of Syria’s return to the Arab League, Damascus agreed with several Arab foreign ministers to curb drug trafficking across its borders.

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