Saudi women fight to stop gym closures

Dubai, 23 March (AKI) - A group of young Saudi women have begun a campaign to protest against a government decision to close all the country's female gyms that are not linked to a hospital or health body. According to Arab TV network Al-Arabiya, the women have adopted the slogan, 'Let them get fat', while complaining about the high cost of sports centres linked to official health organisations.They have also appealed to the minister and to the secretary in the municipality of the coastal city of Jeddah to review their decision.
The young women are particularly concerned since they do not have the means to go to 'official' gyms and believe this government decree will be bad for their health. That view was endorsed by Maha, who enrolled at a gym six months ago and lost 21 kilogrammes.
While she said she has several pieces of gym equipment at home, she prefers to go to a gym where she gains support and encouragement.Another woman, Umm Abd al-Aziz said practising sport is a way of a "moment of relief" and going to a fitness club is the only way to release the tension accumulated at home."Where can we go now that the gyms are closing?" the woman asked. Sara Abd al-Aziz asked why men are permitted to practise sport in gyms that do not depend on a health authority, while women cannot, although they have the same needs. She said women actually have more need for sport than men since they experience different phases of their lives, such as pregnancy and birth, and also suffer from many pressures without finding any relief.In response to the protests, the deputy-director of Jeddah's public relations office, Ahmad al-Ghamidi, said the provincial secretary has the right to close female gyms which lack the appropriate licenses, and said a regulatory body is currently carrying out inspections to make sure they follow the rules.
Source: http://thewomenofislam.blogspot.com/2009/03/out-takes-short-news-stories.html