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Starbucks Responds to Sign Banning Women From Store in Saudi Arabia

by Elisha Fieldstadt /  / Updated 
Image: Saudi women arrive to attend Janadriyah Culture Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh
Saudi women arrive to attend Janadriyah Culture Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 8, 2016.FAISAL Al NASSER / Reuters

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A sign on a Starbucks store in Saudi Arabia banning women from entering the coffee shop sparked backlash, but the coffee company said Monday that the situation has been rectified.

A Twitter user going by the name "Manar N" tweeted on Feb. 1 that she had recently denied service at a Starbucks in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Accompanying the tweet was a picture of a sign on the door that read: "Please no entry for ladies only send your driver to order thank you."

The picture went viral and made headlines around the world, as many responded and fired off their own post criticizing the coffee empire.

The photo has not been verified by NBC News, but Starbucks said in a statement that the particular store "was originally built without a gender wall. That meant it could only accommodate men in accordance with local law."

As a result, "a poster was placed at the store entrance as required by local law," the statement said.

The store has been renovated to include the "gender wall," Starbucks spokeswoman Jaime Riley told NBC News on Monday. She said the store in Riyadh was the only Starbucks store in Saudi Arabia that didn't have the mandated wall.

"We are pleased to share that the store is now accessible to single men on one side as well as women and families on the other side," the Starbucks statement said. "Starbucks has now 78 stores in Saudi Arabia and all stores cater to both families and singles, except for one that is exclusively reserved for women and families."

Women are, by law, banned from traveling and driving, without the approval of a male guardian in Saudi Arabia, according to Human Right's Watch, which said the country practices "systematic discrimination" against women.

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