Saudi Arabia to allow women’s sportsclub
RIYADH - Reuters
Saudi clerics have warned against female exercise. Hürriyet photoSaudi Arabia is to license women’s sports clubs for the first time, al-Watan daily reported, in a major step for an ultra-religious country where clerics have warned against female exercise. Last year the conservative Islamic kingdom sent women athletes to the Olympics for the first time after pressure from international rights groups.
Until now, women’s exercise facilities, including gyms, have had to be licensed by the Health Ministry and designated as “health centers.”
Last April Watan, owned by a Saudi prince, reported the government had set up a ministerial committee to allow women’s sports clubs. In 2009 a member of the country’s highest council of clerics said girls should not play sports lest they “lose their virginity” by tearing their hymens. State-run girls’ schools do not have exercise classes.
Watan said on March 29 the Interior Ministry had decided to allow women’s sports clubs after reviewing a study that showed flaws in the existing system.