Starbucks Riyadh Bans Women After Segregation Wall Collapses

March 27, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. outrage / ˈaʊt reɪdʒ / (n.) – anger or negative feelings toward something
Example: After the controversial law was passed, several groups expressed outrage on social media. 

2. mandate / ˈmæn deɪt / (v.) – to command or require something
Example: The management mandates drug testing to all employees.

3. mingle /ˈmɪŋ gəl/ (v.) – to join, talk to, and interact with
Example: My friends love to mingle with other people in parties.

4. undue /ʌnˈdu/ (adj.) – too much, or more than what is necessary
ExampleUndue attention should not be given to minor details.

5. suffrage /ˈsʌf rɪdʒ/ (n.) – the right to vote
Example: Women have been fighting for suffrage throughout history.


Read the text below.
A sign outside a Starbucks store in Riyadh sparked Twitter outrage, as it told female customers that they cannot enter because the cafe’s ‘gender-segregating wall’ collapsed.

Many expressed disappointment when the store prohibited entry for women and told them to send their drivers instead. Women’s rights advocate Sally Armstrong even tweeted that the company should close down the branch to support women’s rights.

Saudi Arabia’s law mandates the existence of a partition between single men and single women or families. Their law is based upon the Islamic faith, and is strictly enforced by religious police. Under the law system called Sharia [shuh-REE-uh], men and women who are not blood-related or married cannot mingle, because it is believed that undueinteraction between them would lead to sin.

A number of other things are considered unlawful for women under the Sharia. For example, women are not allowed to drive or travel on their own, requiring them to have a male relative as chaperone. They are also prescribed clothes that cover the body almost entirely. Interestingly, children are also discouraged from playing with Barbie dolls.

Because of its restrictions on women, liberals and human rights activists campaign for reforms in Saudi Arabia’s law, but with little success.

In 2011, however, the late King Abdullah granted women the right of suffrage. This took effect last year, when 130,000 women registered and voted for the first time in the Kingdom’s history. In addition to that, 978 women ran for government offices. At least 17 of them won, making history as the first female public servants of Saudi Arabia.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you think that social media posts can help bring about change? Why or why not?
·         What is the possible effect of strict gender-segregating rules on foreigners who visit countries like Saudi Arabia?

Discussion B
·         Do you think foreigners should comment about the laws and policies of another country? Why or why not?
·         If you could implement a new law or change something in your country’s law, what would it be? Why?

March 27, 2016