Languages
Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 11:15 UK

Saudis clamp down on women's gyms

Saudi women in Hofuf
Saudi women are largely constrained to the home and single-sex environments

Many women-only sports clubs and gyms in Saudi Arabia face closure under a government clampdown on unlicensed premises, Saudi media have reported.

Women's gyms have become popular in the ultra-conservative Muslim country where the sexes are heavily segregated.

But only clubs linked to medical groups can get licences and others will be closed, the Arab News newspaper said.

Saudi women were reported to have launched an online campaign in protest called Let Her Get Fat.

Government departments are not allowed to issue licences for commercial gyms and sports clubs for women, unlike facilities for men, the newspaper reported.

Beauty salons

It quoted club manager Bader al-Shibani, who tried to open a women's sports club along with the one he runs for men in Jeddah.

"I ran into a stone wall at every turn. Every department I visited denied that they had the authority to give permission to establish a women's club," he said.

Many clubs are registered as beauty salons, and offer fitness facilities and even exercise classes in addition, the newspaper said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs told the newspaper that commercial clubs do not have registration for the provision of sport and health services.

"It's clear that one department is now taking the decision to put an end to the increasing number of unlicensed clubs," lawyer and community activist Abdulaziz al-Qasim told Arab News.

A group of women launched an internet campaign in protest against the move, saying facilities linked to medical clinics were too expensive, and their health would suffer as a result of the closures.

Women in Saudi Arabia are banned from driving, must wear a head-to-toe cloak when out in public and must obtain permission from a male relative to work, travel, study or marry.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Sexy secrets of the Syrian souk
16 Dec 08 |  Middle East
Saudi women make video protest
11 Mar 08 |  Middle East
Saudi women 'kept in childhood'
21 Apr 08 |  Middle East
Saudi women vie for Olympic rights
13 Jun 08 |  Middle East
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
26 Mar 11 |  Country profiles

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific