Restaurants, though not all, have two sections: family seating and male seating. The latter is seating for men only and women do not go in those sections at all. The booths are not hidden, but sit in open view. For example, in the malls, male seating is typically out in the open, without curtains or anything. Family seating is a different matter. In the mall, family seating is behind a set of walls. In restaurants, family seating is set into a different section of the building. The booths and tables are curtained. If a restaurant only has one section, it means that only males can go in. There are not any female-only restaurants, that I am aware of, in the area.
Only males can sit in the male section. I believe fathers can sit there with their sons. Family sections are designated for families--fathers can join if they have daughters or a wife with them. And of course, women are only allowed to sit in the family section.
Generally, this isn't a problem. But sometimes, restaurants only have male sections, which means that a woman isn't really supposed to go inside. I could be wrong (and Saudi readers are welcome to correct me), but that is definitely the impression I get. Yesterday, I went to the bookstore (bookstores are, as a rule, delightful--and this one was no exception). Following my grueling shopping expedition, I was very hungry and had an hour to kill before my taxi came to pick me up. There were a number of coffee shops, including Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts, a Cake shop, an arabic pastry place, etc. As I walked along the row of shops, I realized that none of the stores seemed to have family seating, which meant, that I couldn't go in. My son was starting to get desperate. Luckily, I found the family entrance to Starbucks and was able to get in.
I bet none of you even imagined having different sections for people at a restaurant, did you?