A girl holds her dog at the "Barking Lot" cafe in Saudi Arabia's eastern Gulf city of Khobar.
Dog owners in Saudi Arabia can now enjoy a cup of coffee alongside their beloved pets at a new cafe -- a first for the kingdom.
Dogs 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.
Animal shelters have sprung up in several cities.
The Barking Lot's Kuwaiti owner, Dalal Ahmed, said she got the idea 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."
Young men and women gather at the cafe with dogs of all sizes.
Some pets playfully romp around, while others sit on their owners' laps, or wait patiently at the counter as their guardians order drinks.
In one section, dogs are treated to washes and blow dries as part of the grooming services offered.
"The idea of this cafe is very new," said Johara, a Saudi citizen. "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 cafe, which he described as "beautiful".
"I came here to play with the dogs, which now have a cafe for themselves for the first time in Saudi Arabia," he said.
Pets looked after at home are highly unlikely to spread any disease, but dogs or cats abandoned on the street can be dangerous, he said.
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