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Women in Saudi Arabia were banned from entering a Starbucks location by religious police after a “gender wall,” a wooden barrier separating men and women inside the store, collapsed due to customer traffic.
The Starbucks, located in Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh, posted a sign on the door instructing women to stay out.
According the Arabic newspaper Al Weaam, Saudi religious police, called the “Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice,” ordered Starbucks’ management not to allow women to enter in absence of the gender wall. The decree was made after authorities discovered the collapsed wall during a routine inspection.
A sign on the door read, “On order by the Commission, please no women allowed in. Women can send in their drivers to buy for them.”
In Saudi Arabia, gender walls are required for all restaurants and public shops. Although women just recently won the right to vote and be elected into office, women are still not permitted to travel without a chaperone, drive, or enter cemeteries.
Update: A Starbucks spokesperson has reached out to The Daily Meal to clarify that the temporary ban on women was not due to the collapse of a gender wall, as originally reported by local media, but because of ongoing renovations at the Starbucks location.
“Starbucks in Saudi Arabia adheres to the local customs by providing separate entrances for families as well as single people,” a spokesperson said. “All our stores provide equal amenities, service, menu, and seating to men, women, and families. We are working as quickly as possible as we refurbish our Jarir store, so that we may again welcome all customers in accordance with local customs.”
Renovations are expected to be completed within the next few weeks.