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“Let Her Get Fat” in Saudi Arabia

Sometimes, either you laugh, or you’re going to cry. This is from BBC News: Saudi Arabia

Saudis clamp down on women’s gyms

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 licenses 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 licenses for commercial gyms and sports clubs for women, unlike facilities for men, the newspaper reported.

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.

April 28, 2009 - Posted by | Exercise, Health Issues, Saudi Arabia, Women's Issues


  1. hipocracy

    Comment by moyna | April 28, 2009 | Reply

  2. Yeah let them get yummy and fat 😉

    Comment by Purgatory | April 28, 2009 | Reply

  3. I do not see in islam any clause against having women play sports in private y3ni?!

    I guess they like their women chubby ?!

    Comment by Daddy's Girl | April 28, 2009 | Reply

  4. This was a special Purg treat post

    Comment by jewaira | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  5. Worse, Moyna! Horrible for the women! Of course keeping women at home is a great way to control women, keeping them isolated makes them depressed and passive. Exercise builds a feeling of well-being, and self confidence. This is just a shame. Ayb!

    Purg – YOU get yummy and fat! We women are better off without the extra pounds! What? What’s that? Oh yes! You are also better off without the extra pounds, but nobody seems to be closing down places where men exercise.

    Daddy’s Girl – I think they have a point. Women gain strength from their bonds to one another. We make each other laugh, we cry for each other when something bad happens, we support one another emotionally . . . isolate women and you control them.

    Jewaira – If only it weren’t so . . . controlling.

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  6. I do not exercise;p

    Comment by Purgatory | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  7. LOL.

    But Purg, my point is – what’s the point? Women, in a women’s health club, exercising, maybe dancing or swimming or running – isn’t that all right as long as men are not present? Am I missing something?

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  8. I did not read the post, but anything that keeps women fat and chubby is fine with me 🙂

    Comment by Purgatory | April 29, 2009 | Reply

  9. Oh Purg. How can you comment when you haven’t read the post?

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 30, 2009 | Reply

  10. umm….while I’m inclined to believe that a healthy number of the male populace of Saudia will be in favor of shutting down gyms, in order to segregate the women and keep them home (after all, the women may shop after being at the gym, go for lunch etc, heaven forbid they spend a little money…err..that’s SO tongue-in-cheek eh)

    However, I was told that the issue apparently is that the gyms are being operated under the wrong licensing body, they’ll be shut down and be allowed to re-open …right now the women’s gyms are being licensed under “Beauty Salons”.

    *it should also be noted that many women have home gyms in their homes; even my inlaws in Kuwait did, and they’re “backward bedus”. Most men like their women to be fit and healthy, gulf men are not any different, and these villas are often monstrou – easily able to accommodate a gym.
    It’s not like staying home is some kind of death threat; let’s remember the size of their families, the frequency that they come together, and that in a villa with gazillions of rooms that one dedicated to a home gym (where a lot of the men also use it) isn’t uncommon anymore.

    Let’s focus more on women being able to sign up for school on their own, or allowing a “female only” transportation system into the kingdom (pink taxis, anyone?). Or allowing women to truly choose their own husbands, and to divorce them if necessary. How about employment, to more than roughly 10% of the female population? How about women actually receiving proper food and health care – when they need it, and giving them the ability to access it, alone? When mehram is neglectful, violent or just plain selfish?

    I understand that healthwise, women need to workout, they need excersize etc – but gyms are hardly the only place for that, personally I think an airconditioned/misting walking path in every city would be far more practical, particularily as we look at the elderly, and women who have young children – and not all women have maids to care for children. Just walking is great excersize, and the sunlight is really important for the vitamin loss that happens when women are shut indoors.

    Women-only-gyms also keep women shut away, again, when in reality they NEED to be outside. Sunshine, fresh air, even in the intense heat of the summer, walking for 15 minutes is entirely possible, and the idea of a public canopied pathway area, with misting or something along those lines, makes it free for women. AND children. (who are also high on the obesity list, and diabetic list.)

    Or how about the law that prohibit hospitals from marking down “suspected domestic abuse”, as long as the woman is released to her mehram after 48 hours? As long as that law is in place, we won’t see any statistical data worth it’s salt.

    Gym’s aren’t high on the “serious” list of freedoms that islamic women need to fight for. Really.

    Comment by Kimberly | April 30, 2009 | Reply

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