The political situation in Israel, which has seen a boycott on US products in Saudi Arabia by consumers angered over the US support for the Israelis amid the Palestinian uprisings has seen local "Islamic alternative" drinks prosper at the expense of Western products.

US giants Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have been no exceptions, with an Iranian soft drink company, which produces Zamzam Cola cashing in on their downfall.

The Saudi distributor of Zamzam Cola, named after a sacred water well near the Muslim holy city of Mecca, said on Wednesday that demand was three times higher than forecast in the first week the drink went on sale in the east of the kingdom.

"The campaign of boycotting American products and the good quality of Zamzam Cola have given us excellent sales," al-Majarrah Foodstuffs Establishment general manager Firas Khawaja said in press reports today.

US exports to Saudi Arabia have been victim to 40% slash in the first three months of 2002. Meanwhile, Majarrah said more than 4m cans of Zamzam Cola, which also comes as a diet version, were sold in the first week.

The company, which says its greatest concern is meeting demand as the drink rolls out across the country, is also says it is more concerned about the ability of the Iranian supplier to meet demand when distribution begins considering setting up a plant in Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates.

Zamzam Cola already sells its products in Bahrain, Iraq and Pakistan and some African countries and hopes to expand its operations to other parts of the world.

Meanwhile, the Saudi press reported today that Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Commerce has lifted the temporary ban on imports of fizzy drinks from the European Union (EU) countries.

The ban was imposed at the end of July 2002 over concerns that drinks could contain residues of synthetic hormones which are harmful to humans. No further details were available.