Saudi Starbucks refuses to serve women after ‘gender wall’ collapses

After a ‘gender wall’ collapsed earlier this week, a Saudi Starbucks reportedly refused to serve women, posting a sign on the entrance of the store banning them from even entering the coffee shop.

A Starbucks in Riyadh have posted a sign on their front door written in Arabic and English stating: “Please no entry for ladies only. Send your driver to order. Thank you.”

A barrier in the store that was intended to keep men and women separated collapsed. A routine inspection conducted in the local coffee shop discovered the collapsed wall. Upon the discovery, the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, (also known as the religious police), ordered the ban on women until the wall could be replaced.

After seeing several posts on Twitter for the call to end gender discrimination and allow women back in the Riyadh Starbucks location, Starbucks released a statement addressing the situation: “Starbucks in Saudi Arabia adheres to the local customs by providing separate entrances for families as well as single people. We are working as quickly as possible as we refurbish our Jabir store so that we may again welcome all customers in accordance with local customs.”

Saudi Arabia is notorious for its strict sex segregation laws. In addition to the segregation laws, every Saudi woman must seek permission from her male guardian to engage in all activities. Adult Saudi women are not allowed to make any decisions and must rely on the permission of their male guardians.

On Oct. 26, a number of Saudi women got behind the wheels of their vehicles in protest of a ban on women driving in Saudi Arabia. In Dec. Saudi women voted in their municipal elections for the first time in the country’s history.

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