The khat (Catha edulis) shrub is cultivated in both the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. The citizens of this region have carried the tradition of chewing khat leaves since the 15th century. This plant is a natural stimulant which contains two main substances, cathine and cathinone, which cause excitement, euphoria, and loss of appetite. Moreover, the khat trade is considered a source of income within countries of these regions. However, khat holds both benefits and negative aspects for mankind, society, and the environment. This article focuses on the issue of khat smuggling to Saudi Arabia, which has increased over between 2010 and 2016 according to the recent statistics.
Research on the problem of khat smuggling to Saudi Arabia was performed through the analysis of seven years of data (2010–2016) obtained by Saudi Customs and other governmental entities responsible for monitoring the smuggling of drugs, which includes data reflecting the amount of khat seized and smuggled to Saudi Arabia.
Khat smuggling has increased in Saudi Arabia over seven (2010–2016) years. The analysis of data on both the promotion and smuggling of khat were considered, and placed khat in third place among other drugs since the year 1999.
Statistically, Jazan is the most vulnerable to the smuggling of khat. As such, the to design of intervention programs is recommended to address the problem of khat smuggling in the Jazan region. Additionally, awareness should be increased among the youth through cooperation between public education and higher education, which should include further research on this problem.