The move propelled the cafe ahead of the law in the kingdom, where most restaurants and coffee shops are divided, by law and custom, into all-male “singles” sections and “family” sections for women and mixed family groups. Men enter through separate doors and pay in separate lines; women sometimes eat behind partitions to ensure privacy from male strangers.

Baristas work at Nabt Fenjan, a coffeeshop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As the government relaxes restrictions on men and women working and socialising together, coffeehouses are on the front lines of change. (Iman Al-Dabbagh/The New York Times)Baristas work at Nabt Fenjan, a coffeeshop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. As the government relaxes restrictions on men and women working and socialising together, coffeehouses are on the front lines of change. (Iman Al-Dabbagh/The New York Times)