Saudi authorities plan to start granting licences for women’s gyms starting the end of February.
13 February 2017| Last updated on 25 June 2017
Women in Saudi Arabia have a number of restrictions imposed on them in their daily lives. One of those restrictions is staying fit.
It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to open female-only gyms in the Kingdom. And since it's frowned upon to exercise outdoors, women have very limited options to be active. However, things are about to change!
According to local newspaper Okaz, HRH Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, who is Vice President for Women’s Affairs at the General Authority of Sports, said that authorities plan to start giving licences for women’s gyms starting the end of February.
The licences would be for gyms focusing on fitness and weight-loss activities, including weightlifting, running and swimming. They would not be available for facilities offering competitive activities, including team-based sports.
The plan is to eventually have a gym in every neighbourhood. The aim behind this is to encourage women to take on healthy lifestyles to avoid diseases and obesity.
There will be workshops and seminars taking place in the next two months to educate women on the importance of staying active and motivate them to invest in these new fitness facilities.
The General Sports Authority recently created the women’s division for the purpose of licensing women’s gyms and altering outdoor spaces so that women can work out.
The Kingdom used to have several women-only gyms at some point. However, due to the lack of a legal entity at the time, there was no way to obtain a licence and so they were labelled as health or beauty centres. The mislabelling eventually caused the majority of them to be shut down.
According to statistics by the World Health Organization (WHO), 70% of women in Saudi are overweight and 40% are obese. The possible consequences of these large numbers can include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and even some cancers.
Therefore, offering facilities for women to stay active and inspiring them to use them will be a significant step forward in reducing obesity amongst women living there.