Obesity-watch: Saudis to start granting female gym licenses kingdomwide

by WorldTribune Staff, February 15, 2017

Saudi Arabia will begin granting licenses to female-only gyms by the end of February, the kingdom’s sports authority said.

Girls do not receive physical education at Saudi public schools. /Getty Images

Princess Reema bint Bandar, vice president for women’s affairs at the General Authority of Sports, told Saudi daily Okaz that the sports authority also plans to open a female-only gym in every district in the kingdom.

“It is not my role to convince the society, but my role is limited to opening the doors for our girls to live a healthy lifestyle away from diseases that result from obesity and lack of movement,” Princess Reema told Arab News,

Obesity rates between males and females in the kingdom are disproportionate with 44 percent of the adult Saudi female population being obese, compared to 26 percent of the male population.

A 2015 study found that 73 percent of Saudi women are physically inactive.

Girls do not receive physical education in state schools, and private schools rarely include mandatory physical education classes for girls.

Competitive sports are still off-limits, and licenses will not be granted to female sports clubs in sports like tennis, soccer and volleyball.

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