Coffee houses start allowing women and men to congregate together in Saudi Arabia

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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drgary
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#1: Post by drgary »

I just came across this New York Times article, "Saudi society Is changing. Just take a look at these coffeehouses" that shows coffee houses as businesses where the government is allowing women and men to work and meet together. Photos and descriptions of the cafes themselves suggest that their menu offerings are familiar to specialty coffee customers in worldwide.

Here is a quote from the article:
Most coffee shops are still gender-segregated. But many have other draws: imported Japanese brewing equipment, Instagrammable tarts and - more intangible, but mandatory nevertheless - good vibes.

Virtually none offer the golden, cardamom-infused Arabic coffee, poured from a curvaceous pot into dainty cups and served to guests with a hillock of dates, that traditionally defined Saudi coffee culture.
Gary
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sweaner
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#2: Post by sweaner »

Wow, welcome to the 19th century! :roll:
Scott
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MPantani

#3: Post by MPantani »

A journalism scholar studied the New York Times and reported that over a 70 year period the NYT consistently wrote stories about how change in Saudi Arabia was just around the corner and it would become a progressive beacon for the Middle East.

I'm happy to hear that women are no longer getting arrested as prostitutes for merely sitting down in a cafe, as not infrequently happens when western executives go there on business and mistakenly assume that a group of men and women co-workers could sit in a cafe and debrief after a sales meeting.

At this rate the NYT will be correct by the fourth millennium.

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BaristaBoy E61

#4: Post by BaristaBoy E61 »

Why not just say, "GREAT!" and leave it at that.
"You didn't buy an Espresso Machine - You bought a Chemistry Set!"
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yakster
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#5: Post by yakster »

Now we know the rest of the story.
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drgary
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#6: Post by drgary »

MPantani wrote:A journalism scholar studied the New York Times and reported that over a 70 year period the NYT consistently wrote stories about how change in Saudi Arabia was just around the corner and it would become a progressive beacon for the Middle East.

I'm happy to hear that women are no longer getting arrested as prostitutes for merely sitting down in a cafe, as not infrequently happens when western executives go there on business and mistakenly assume that a group of men and women co-workers could sit in a cafe and debrief after a sales meeting.

At this rate the NYT will be correct by the fourth millennium.
You don't cite your source, and you don't update your critique to the Times' coverage of Saudi Arabia following the murder of Jamal Kashoggi, a dissident writer and journalist. But that's a red herring here, because this is a human interest story, not a deep dive of multiply sourced and vetted analysis.

I would not be surprised if what you write is true about continuing arrests for co-mingling. The point of my posting the link is that there are some cracks in a repressive tradition and places you can find a coffee culture we would recognize. I was not suggesting that the whole repressive edifice is collapsing in front of our eyes, and I don't think that was the direction of the story either.
Gary
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Mohammad

#7: Post by Mohammad »

As a Saudi member of this forum, some(most) of the opinions and sentiments expressed in this thread so far about my country and culture are simply hurtful to me. They hurt because I expected more sophistication and nuance from fellow HB'ers; more sophistication than what's usually oversimplified in the media. But maybe I was wrong, maybe the world awareness level here is similar to the espresso often praised here: loud & sour?

Come visit, you'll drink good coffee and (hopefully) widen your world view. Meanwhile, kindly remember there are Saudi members here and you have no idea what you are talking about.
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drgary
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#8: Post by drgary »

Mohammed, thank you for joining the discussion. I apologize if anything I have written is hurtful or offensive. What should we read or know to become better informed? Feel free to PM me if some of what you have to say is difficult to discuss publicly.
Gary
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Haskens

#9: Post by Haskens »

I lived in Saudi Arabia for about ten years from the early 2000's to early 2010s. I see news stories and social media posts from friends that still live there about all of these changes - they recently allowed women to attend football (soccer) games, started allowing concerts and allowing women and men to attend together, allowed women to drive and it seems are allowing men and women to frequent the same coffee shops and food places. It sounds ridiculous if you've never been there, but it's a huge change from the Saudi Arabia I remember (and I lived in Al Khobar, a place that was relatively 'progressive').

My personal feeling is that the biggest issue with Saudi society is the 'othering' of different people i.e. the racism that is inherent in treatment of people from poor countries or of certain skin colours is so ingrained in almost every interaction in Saudi Arabia, and this extends to women in general, but especially domestic help and that sort of thing. That's not to say every Saudi person is terrible - I've had friends who were Saudi who were wonderful people, but the real telling aspect is that I never made a good Saudi friend in my 10 years in saudi arabia, but made a whole bunch of good saudi friends living in the UK. Maybe it's just the system. And before we get too self important on our high horses, remember that segregation in the United states was very real until relatively recently...and racism and othering is increasingly real, so if anything while Saudi is moving forward, it feels like the West is moving backwards in many ways.

Anyways, back to coffee - I'm not surprised about that being popular. There's a lot of young people with disposable income in KSA, no alcohol (not legally anyways) and until recently no movie theatres and other typical entertainment spots. The coffee shop is where you'd go to hang with the boys (and the girls now it seems).

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drgary
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#10: Post by drgary »

As this thread has developed I see that it has gotten very political. It's hard for it not to do so, since the subject of the article includes cultural change. Perhaps if we stick more to changes in coffee culture, that will be truer to the purpose of this site, which is to write about excellent coffee and espresso and where it can be found.
Gary
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