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Alleged Saudi 'no male-guardian, no shisha' cafe rule sparks controversy

Online views varied on the announcement, with many users being skeptical whether or not the story is authentic

Published: Updated:

Saudis are having their say on a recent Twitter post showing a coffee shop announcement prohibiting women from smoking shisha without a male guardian.

The picture circulated on the popular social media website shows the coffee shop allegedly in the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah with a board outside stating: “It is forbidden to serve shisha to women without the presence of a [male] guardian.”

The item was picked up by a variety of websites as well as local and regional news outlets such as the Saudi al-Jazirah newspaper, Egypt’s al-Masry al-Youm and CNN’s Arabic portal.

Online views varied on the announcement, with many users being skeptical whether or not the story is authentic, as no report was able to name the café where the shisha was banned without a male guardian.

“This decision was attributed to the committee which has categorically denied it,” said Twitter user @586R7al.

Others mocked the post, using it as an opportunity to criticize the male guardian system.

“What remains is for them to say that [even] eating and drinking is forbidden without the presence of a [male] guardian,” @alamakn800, Twitter user, said.

“All that’s left is for you tell us not to go to the bathroom except with a [male] guardian,” @RenFh, another Twitter user, said.

“I think serving shisha to a girl with a guardian … is scarier than serving it to a girl without one,” @almadhiM said.

“A male guardian is a double-edged sword. You can go to hajj [pilgrimage] with him and he can also accompany you for a round of shisha. So choose your guardian carefully,” @AmarapAmmar tweeted.

In Saudi Arabia, gender segregation is practiced at schools and workplaces and restaurants have both singles and a family section.