JEDDAH: Starbucks has clarified that the ban on women’s entry at one of its Riyadh stores is only temporary and that the coffee shop will be opened to them soon after a separation wall is erected.
Starbucks reportedly said that members of the Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) ordered its management to ban women from entering after they found a wall to keep men and women apart had collapsed.
The coffee shop has posted an announcement in Arabic and English, saying: “Please, no entry to ladies. Send your driver to order. Thank you.”
The notice kicked up a controversy. One woman said on Twitter: “Starbucks store in Riyadh refused to serve me because I’m a woman and asked me to send a man instead.”
A spokeswoman for Starbucks was quoted as saying by a newspaper that the store was currently being renovated to accommodate single persons and families, in accordance with local customs. “It is due to be completed within two weeks.”
Several coffee shops in the Kingdom have barriers separating men and women. Most of them make efforts to attract families to visit their chains and spend their leisure time there.
Adel Shukri, a worker in a coffee shop, told Arab News: “Coffee shops must provide a proper environment for families to be encouraged to visit these places. The new preferable place to spend leisure time is coffee shops. Most women do not prefer places that have no separation walls for men and women.”