The Saudi Arabian government has announced that it’ll shut down scores of privately-run all-women’s gyms in the country. The move is in response to calls by leading Muslim clerics, who condemn their existence as “shameless,” reports The Guardian.
They’re being closed because they’re unlicensed.
Ironically, the government department in charge of the male health clubs—the General Presidency of Youth Welfare—is neither allowed to issue permits nor is it prepared to regulate the women’s outfits.
Businessman Bader Al-Shibani’s efforts to open a female-only sports club, along the lines of the one he runs for men in Jeddah, turned out to be a doomed enterprise. He was quoted in the paper as saying that after running from pillar to post to secure an approval for the project, he finally gave up.
“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. In the end, I just abandoned the project,” he told the media.
Only clubs that are affiliated to government hospitals and clinics will be allowed to stay open.
To protest against the clampdown, a group of women have launched an online campaign called “Let Her Get Fat.”
Already denied a host of rights under the austere brand of Wahabi Islam practiced in the oil-rich, desert kingdom, they fear, the new move will likely harm their health since access to public facilities is expensive.