“Pretty quickly, I stopped seeing the company as an engine of community. Instead, I saw it as a myth-maker offering only an illusion of belonging and meeting its customers’ desire for connections in form, maybe, but surely not in substance. Once I came to this conclusion, I started to dig deeper into the company’s other promises–great working conditions, musical discovery, fair treatment of farmer, and concern for the environment. Every time I went excavating, the stories turned out to be more complex, more heavily edited, and more ambiguous than I had first thought. Each time, it became clear that Starbucks fulfilled its many promises only in the thinnest, most transitory of ways and that people’s desires went largely unfulfilled.”
― Bryant Simon, Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks
You might not know that but Starbucks is one of the most quickly spreading coffee houses in the Arabic world and most hated in the Middle East. I had to specify the term “Middle East” and not add the Gulf for example because it’s well-loved in Kuwait where I moved a few months ago.
Since the moment Starbucks opened its first branch in Amman and all I heard was horrendous stories, some I believed other were just shocking and sometimes outrageous. Some were political others were religious… all because of the green mermaid in the logo.
I know she’s not a mermaid, I Google-d the history of the industry, but I chose this term because the first time I saw it I thought it was a mermaid.
You might ask yourself why would Arabs hate/boycott Starbucks while it’s just a brand for a cafe? Some people might think it’s because it’s American, here you would be wrong. Jordanians don’t have problems with the USA. It’s more of the owner’s origin and the logo’s story: Jewish.
As a religion I’m not prejudice against any religion like most of the world, but as a Palestinian and an Arab we have a huge issue with the Zionist entity and it’s daily and historical effect in our lives.
People don’t view Starbucks as a harmless foreign brand but they view it as a colonial county. They feel that if they bought that cup of coffee from the coffee shop they would buy their enemy money to get stronger. I understand that completely, especially with their policy of never refusing to hire people, if they are over staffed they open a new branch in such case moving the economy and helping people with jobs, which means a conflict of interests.
Before the last and longer boycotting period hit Jordan after all that has been going on in the Middle East, Starbucks decided to redecorate. Stating that the shop is getting old, neglected and old-fashioned. I’m sure without seeing their accounts that there has been a drop in their sales.
The decor in all honesty shocked me a bit. It changed from the cool American style with comfy couches to a total oriental themed setting. My brother and I had to check it out, the change was very deliberate, but seriously beautiful.
To tell you the truth it was gorgeous, not comfortable (but I guess that’s the point) but very nice. You see the younger crowd doesn’t believe in boycotting, they used to think of Starbucks as a place to cram for exams, free WiFi and one cup of coffee for the whole day kind of deal. With the new decor the largest crowd begin to search for other spots to get comfortable.
In any case, are you with Boycotting products/brands according to their owners belief or nationality? I sometimes find it racist especially with how we are being treated, but I totally understand it. What do you think? Coffee VS politics?