A Starbucks outlet in the Saudi capital Riyadh said that a ban on serving women inside would be lifted after the partition between the family area and the single men areas is fixed.
A controversy with the coffee company erupted after the store put up a sign in Arabic and English saying that women would not be allowed inside and that they could send their drivers to place the orders.
The announcement last week did not explain the reasons for the ban, causing a storm of negative reactions targeting the store and accusing it of discrimination against women.
“Please no entry for ladies only. Send your driver to order. Thank you,” the sign read.
Starbucks later said that the ban was only temporary and that it was issued after the partition between the two areas collapsed and members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, the religious police, asked the branch manager not to allow women inside until the situation is fixed, Saudi news site Al Marsad reported.
“Starbucks in Saudi Arabia adheres to the local customs by providing separate entrances for families as well as single people,” the company said in a statement. “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.”
According to a report quoting a spokesperson for Starbucks, the store refurbishment should be completed within two weeks.
Several coffee shops and restaurants in Saudi Arabia allocate special areas to families, separating them from the single men’s areas.