Dubai: A French restaurant in Jeddah has sparked controversy across Saudi Arabia after reportedly denying entry to all women wearing hijab and men wearing the Saudi national dress.
This is believed to be the first of its kind incident to be reported in the country, which is home to two of Islam’s holiest sites.
Many visitors to the restaurant expressed their anger over the shocking decision.
Taking to social media, countless netizens tagged authorities in Saudi Arabia, urging them to take action against the restaurant.
The eatery was also accused of disrespecting Islam in the home of Islam. Commenting on the restaurant's Facebook page, a social media user called Ameera Al Qahtani said: “This restaurant does not deserve any star. Because it refuses to allow women [wearing] the hijab, and refuses the Saudi dress for men. They need to be kicked out of Jeddah. They don’t respect our religion, and this makes me very angry.”
Another user, Tariq El Eblesch, said: “They (restaurant) need to be kicked out of Jeddah. They don’t respect our religion and tradition.”
There was no immediate response or comment from the restaurant or from Saudi authorities.
This is not the first time a restaurant has denied entry to hijabi women in the Gulf region. Two months ago, a famous Indian restaurant in Bahrain was shut down after a woman wearing hijab was allegedly banned from entering the facility.
Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Authority (BTEA) said it has launched an investigation into the incident, which came to light after a video showing one of the staff blocking a veiled woman from entering the facility went viral on social media platforms, where users expressed their anger at this behaviour.
In the video, the girl is heard saying she went with her friend to the restaurant but was surprised that her friend was not allowed to enter because she was wearing the hijab.
The ministry has asked all tourism outlets to comply with regulations and avoid enforcing policies that violate the laws of the Kingdom.
“We reject all actions that discriminate against people, especially regarding their national identity,” the ministry said.