Dog parents in Saudi Arabia can now enjoy a cup of coffee alongside their beloved pets at a new café, the Barking Lot café. The dog-friendly café is a first for the ultra-conservative kingdom.
In Islam, dogs are considered unclean animals, unlike cats, and are generally banned from public places in Saudi Arabia.
But The Barking Lot, which opened its doors in June in the coastal city of Khobar, has delighted animal lovers in a country where there are few places to take pets outside the home.
Saudi Arabia’s once-notorious religious police used to ban the walking of pets, saying men were using it as a means to make passes at women. But the ban was widely flouted and pets are becoming an increasingly common sight.
Animal shelters have sprung up in several cities. The adoption of strays has become more popular in the rapidly modernising kingdom, which has undergone sweeping changes as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” plan.
The Barking Lot’s Kuwaiti owner, Dalal Ahmed, said she got the idea for the café during a previous visit to the kingdom.
“I came to Saudi Arabia for a visit with my dog, but wasn’t allowed to walk on the beach with him,” she told AFP. “I was very sad and decided to help by opening a coffee shop for people who have dogs — and even for those who do not.”
The Barking Lot café is also a boutique that offers pet grooming services. Their Facebook page can be seen here.
In the grooming section of the cafe, dogs are treated to washes and blow dries as part of the services offered.
“The idea of this cafe is very new,” Johara, a Saudi citizen, told AFP. “It’s a distinct place where dogs can come and meet other dogs.”
For Nawaf, also from Saudi Arabia, it was the first time visiting the café, which he described as “beautiful”. “I came here to play with the dogs, which now have a café for themselves for the first time in Saudi Arabia,” he told AFP.
The opening of Saudi Arabia’s first dog friendly café shows that the world is indeed becoming more pet friendly. While still a far cry from the pet friendliness of countries in Europe, the opening of this café is a big step in the right direction to changing attitudes towards man’s best friend in Saudi Arabia.
Hopefully, the news of Barking Lot café’s welcoming of dogs will reach other cafés in Saudi Arabia as well as other businesses which could go a long way to the idea of pets becoming more of a common sight in society.