Like most places in the popular dining district, it is for men only.
If Saudi religious police drive by, it could be bad for business.
At an outdoor cafe in the Saudi Arabian capital, 28-year-old Abdullah looks nervous, but says he is happy to chat with two female reporters.
As we sit down at one of the empty tables, the manager comes outside and asks us to leave.
The Internet “affects vulnerable youth," he says, who under the influence of online outsiders could "be used for political purposes and personal gain.”Locals say young Saudis are picking up foreign customs through social media, which is in some minds a good thing, and some a dangerous trend, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. It means ending the enforced separation of men and women in schools, offices and many public places.
This limits women’s access to education, jobs, gyms and parks, Abdulrahman says, who considers segregation of the sexes “a waste of money” and “racism.” Abdulrahman, wearing a tee shirt and a bulky skull-cap, says that women, who make up half of Saudi society, are missing out on what little entertainment there is in Riyadh, hidden largely behind veils and closed doors.
But women stay inside, so we can finish our mocha coffees unnoticed. But some among the older generation fear that “freedom” for 20-somethings means vice like drugs, alcohol or premarital sex.
All of which, they say, are advocated by foreigners on social media.
We welcome you to join the Inter Nations community of Belgians abroad.“It’s like prison culture, in that they have no choice but to have sex with other men.It’s just a physical act; it’s not about being ‘gay.’ “Before I left the UK, I was given a list of protocols: Never be rude to police, always carry ID. “There was a waiter in the hotel from the Philippines, a very delicate looking guy, he could almost pass as being a girl. My colleague said this was guy was a regular ‘escort.’ Despite the promising job, his experience led to him to curtail his work in Riyadh. And they will pay generously to satiate a sexual desire. I ended up becoming really reclusive, and just staying in my room outside of working hours. “I have never experienced anything like this in the UK.There is a dress code in Riyadh for women: loose robe-dresses called abayas have to be worn in public at all times, but the law does not require veils over faces or scarves covering heads.Yet more often than not women cover up almost completely. That baffles Abdulrahman and many other young men and women in Riyadh.The possibilities for interacting offline are sure to satisfy a wide range of tastes, from a hip dining experience in one of Riyadh’s trendy restaurants to a joint trip to the humid western coastal region of Timahah.