Starbucks responds to global furore on Saudi ban

Starbucks has been forced to react to global criticism after news that a ban on women entering one Riyadh shop had hit headlines worldwide

Starbucks has been forced to react to global criticism following the temporary ban on women entering one store in Riyadh
Starbucks has been forced to react to global criticism following the temporary ban on women entering one store in Riyadh

Starbucks has been forced to react to global criticism after news that a ban on women entering one Riyadh shop hit headlines worldwide.

The news, which broke last week, involved a ban on women entering one branch of Starbucks in the Jarir district of Riyadh, KSA. The ban took place after religious police found the shop's gender separation wall had collapsed during a routine inspection.

While reports of the Saudi Starbucks ban spread quickly across both Middle East and international media outlets; social media exploded with public reactions to Starbucks’ perceived treatment of women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in additional to comments on the American company’s involvement in the wider Middle East.

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Starbucks bars women from entering store. As a woman I can no longer support Starbucks unless this changes. https://t.co/ZXhiI7XJom

— Panayiota Bertzikis (@panayiotab) February 4, 2016

 

@Starbucks Please stop this discrimination against women (pic: one of your stores in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) pic.twitter.com/QiJfvezDaG

— Manar N (@manarn8) February 1, 2016

 

 

The reaction has forced Starbucks to respond to their critics. In a statement given to CNN, Starbucks have confirmed that the ban was a temporary measure only, affecting one coffee shop in KSA. The company added “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."

In a further statement from the company on Monday, Starbucks confirmed that the temporary ban had been lifted, following what must presumably have been a hasty, damage-control refurb to the Riyadh store.

"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.

"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. 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.”

Speaking to Arab News, Adel Shukri (an employee at the Riyadh Starbucks store) said: “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.”

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