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Starbucks Middle East Franchisee Lays Off 2,000 Workers Amid Gaza War Boycotts

Credits: Microsoft News

Starbucks’ Middle East franchisee, Alshaya Group, is facing significant challenges amid ongoing boycotts of the brand over the Israel-Hamas conflict, leading to the layoff of approximately 2,000 workers across its restaurants in the region.

The Kuwait-based family business cited difficult business conditions as the primary reason behind the decision to terminate just over 10% of its workforce in Starbucks stores across the Middle East and North Africa. This move reflects the impact of the prolonged trading difficulties experienced over the past six months.

Alshaya Group, which operates around 1,900 Starbucks outlets in countries including Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, conveyed the somber news to the Associated Press, with Reuters being the first to report on the layoffs.

Starbucks (Credits: Allrecipes)

The backlash against Starbucks is part of a broader trend affecting Western brands targeted by pro-Palestinian activists following Hamas’ attack on Israel in October.

McDonald’s, among others, has also faced boycott campaigns from both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel groups, resulting in significant business impacts in the Middle East and elsewhere. The fast-food chain came under fire after a franchisee in Israel announced plans to distribute free meals to Israeli soldiers.

Despite rumors suggesting otherwise, Starbucks has refuted claims that it supports the Israeli government and military financially, asserting on its website that such allegations are unequivocally false. The company, as a public entity, is mandated to disclose all corporate giving.

The contentious nature of the Israel-Hamas conflict has spilled over into Starbucks locations outside the Middle East as well. In Glen Rock, New Jersey, an employee discovered red paint and antisemitic stickers related to the conflict on the shop’s sign in February.

Additionally, Starbucks took legal action against Workers United over a pro-Palestinian message posted online by the union.

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