Starbucks retreats over ban for women at Riyadh coffee shop

Ban put in place after complaint from religious police provoked public backlash
Starbucks retreats over ban for women at Riyadh coffee shop
(Image credit: @manarn8)
By Staff writer
Tue 09 Feb 2016 09:43 AM

Starbucks has lifted a temporary ban on women entering one of its coffee shops, following a public backlash and widespread media coverage of the incident.

Earlier this, week, the US brand banned women from a store in the Jarir district of the city after the Saudi religious police complained that there was not a wall to divide genders.

A sign written in Arabic and English was  posted on the shop window, saying: “Please no entry to ladies. Send your driver to order. Thank you.”

A spokeswoman for Starbucks was reportedly told a local newspaper that the store was being renovated to accommodate single persons and families, in accordance with local customs and would be completed within two weeks.

The conservative Islamic kingdom has strict rules banning non-related men and women from spending time together and many restaurants and cafes have barriers to separate families and women from single men.

On Monday, in a statement to CNN, Starbucks confirmed that women were once again welcome at the Jarir coffee shop.

"Starbucks welcomes all customers, including women and families, to enjoy the Starbucks experience. We have worked with local authorities to obtain approval to refurbish one of our stores in Jarir, which was originally built without a gender wall. That meant it could only accommodate men in accordance with local law,” the statement read.

"This was the only such Starbucks store in Saudi Arabia. During construction, the store could only accommodate and serve single men, and a poster was placed at the store entrance as required by local law.

The statement went on: "We are pleased to share that the store is now accessible to single men on one side as well as women and families on the other side. Starbucks has now 78 stores in Saudi Arabia and all stores cater to both families and singles, except for one that is exclusively reserved for women and families."

For all the latest retail news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.