By Sam Tonkin
Women were barred from a Starbucks in Saudi Arabia and told to send 'their driver' to get a coffee for them instead after religious police noticed a 'gender barrier' wall had collapsed, reports claim.
Signs in Arabic and English were put up on doors to the coffee shop telling women not to enter.
One woman who wasn't allowed into the Starbucks shop wrote on Twitter: ‘#Starbucks store in Riyadh refused 2 serve me just because I'm a WOMAN & asked me 2 send a man instead.’
It has been claimed that the country’s Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the most influential law enforcing authority in the Gulf Kingdom, ordered the café’s management to ban women, according to Arabic language daily 'Al Weaam'.
The commission is said to have issued the notice after its inspectors spotted the collapse of a gender-separation wall during a routine walk around a market in the capital Riyadh.
It is understood that management told police the wall had collapsed on a number of occasions because of regular customer stampedes.
Saudi Arabia is known for its gender segregation, with women requiring a male guardian approval to travel or work outside of the home.
In public spaces such as restaurants, beaches, amusement parks or banks, women are required to enter and exit through special doors.
A Starbucks spokesman told Cosmopolitan.com that the Riyadh store was undergoing a renovation to build a divide that will accommodate single people as well as families.
He denied the claims a gender-separation wall had collapsed.
In a statement the company said: ‘Starbucks in Saudi Arabia adheres to the local customs by providing separate entrances for families as well as single people.
‘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.’