Young Arab Men Are Using Viagra More and More, Why?

Jakarta

At her pharmacy in the historic Bab al-Shaaria district of central Cairo, herbalist Rabea al-Habashi displays a concoction she has dubbed the “miracle potion”.

Habashi’s name is known to some townspeople for selling aphrodisiacs and other natural sexual arousal.

Over the past few years he has noticed a change in the tastes of his customers.

“Most men are now looking for the blue pills they get from Western companies,” he said.

Habashi’s observations go well with the results of a number of studies showing that young Arabs are increasingly buying drugs such as sildenafil (known by the commercial name Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra, Staxyn), and tadalafil (Cialis).

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However, most of the young men the BBC interviewed in Egypt and Bahrain denied using drugs to treat impotence.

They even claimed not to know the drugs. There are also those who immediately refuse to discuss the topic because they consider it “against the morals of society”.

In fact, based on a study in 2012, Egypt is the second largest customer of anti-impotence drugs per capita among the Arab countries.

The first position is Saudi Arabia.

Al-Riyadhthe Saudi daily that published the report, estimated at the time that Saudis were spending $1.5 billion a year on anti-impotence drugs.

Saudi consumption is 10 times higher than that of Russian consumers, whose population is five times larger, according to the newspaper.

Recently, the results of the study of the Arab Journal of Urology shows that 40% of young Saudi male respondents have used a drug like Viagra at least once in their life.

As for Egypt, based on the country’s official statistics in 2021, sales of anti-impotence drugs there reached US$127 million (Rp1.8 trillion) per year, which is equivalent to 2.8% of the total value of pharmaceutical sales in the country.

Male pressure

High consumer interest encourages local companies to act.

In 2014, an anti-impotence drug called Al-Fankoush appeared in Egyptian supermarkets in the form of chocolate.

Al-Fankoush sells for one Egyptian pound (Rp. 775 at current exchange rates ). However, shortly after circulating in the market, the distribution of Al-Fankoush was stopped by the authorities because local media reported that the drug was also sold to children.

The use of anti-impotence drugs is known to be used more by older men than young men. However, in Yemen, data from the local health ministry shows the drug is mostly consumed by men aged 20 to 45 years.

BBC Herbalist Rabea al-Habashi says a growing number of male customers are choosing anti-impotence drugs.

Media reports in the country say Viagra and Cialis have been used by young men as recreational drugs at parties since the start of the civil war between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition in 2015.

Mohamed Sfaxi, professor of urology and reproductive surgery, stressed in an interview with the BBC that such drugs are “not stimulants” and should be used to treat complaints that in most cases “the elderly feel”.

Meanwhile, a sexuality expert in the Middle East assessed that young Arabs are taking anti-impotence pills because of cultural factors.

“The reason may point to a bigger problem facing young Arabs,” explains Shereen El Feki, an Egyptian-British journalist and author of the book entitled Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World.

Respond 2017 UN-supported major survey results regarding gender equality in the Middle East, El Feki explains, “Almost all male respondents are worried about the future and how they will support their families. Many men talk about the enormous pressure of being a man, while women assess ‘how men are no longer men’.

“That means men are under pressure and sexual ability is intertwined in a culture of masculinity, so there’s a lot of pressure on sexual ability.”

El Feki attributes the spotlight on sexual prowess to the misconceptions and over-expectations that pornography creates that “changes young men’s thinking about what constitutes ‘normal’ when it comes to masculinity.”

Historical perception

Although the use of drugs for sexual purposes may be considered a modern phenomenon in Arab society, the consumption of aphrodisiacs has always been a part of culture throughout Arab history.

A man and Viagra pillsGetty Images

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, an important Muslim scholar and writer of the 14th century, included a collection of herbal recipes aimed at increasing sexual arousal in his series of books.

According to Shereen El Feki, in Arab and Islamic traditions, “women are seen as having more sexual ability and passion than men”. Meanwhile, men feel the need to “improve their sexual ability to match” women.

This thought was reflected in the time of the Ottoman Empire, when Ahmed bin Suleiman wrote Sheikh’s Return To Youth at the request of Sultan Selim I, who ruled from 1512 to 1520.

The book is an encyclopedia of medicines and herbal recipes for treating sexual ailments as well as stimulating the sexual arousal of men and women.

Hundreds of years later, many young Arab men still rely on drugs and herbal prescriptions for sexual matters so that their niche market is not sluggish.

Also see ‘The Importance of Maintaining Relationships in the Dates Business’:

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