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Thu 21 Jan 2010 11:37 AM

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Saudi officials close 'illegal' women's fitness centre

Gyms for women continue to be forbidden despite growth of underground venues.

Saudi officials close 'illegal' women's fitness centre
FIGHTING FIT: Gyms for women are illegal in Saudi Arabia. (Getty Images, for illustrative purposes only)

Health officials have closed down an “illegal” women’s fitness centre attached to a hospital in Jeddah, it was reported on Wednesday.

Gyms or fitness clubs for women continue to be illegal in the kingdom, despite the growing popularity of underground venues.

“Anyone who violates regulations governing the running of health facilities would be punished severely because this involves people’s health,” Muhammad Abdul Jawad, director of the Medical Licensing Administration, told Arab News.

He warned clinics and hospitals that officials regularly inspect health facilities to make sure they are following regulations.

Saudi’s municipal and rural affairs ministry recently closed two other gyms in Jeddah and one in Dammam, in eastern Saudi Arabia.

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Anndy 10 years ago

Where does it state in the Qu'ran that exercise is forbidden exactly? How do these people come up with these 'crack brained' ideas and actually feel they are justified?!

Caroline Bell 10 years ago

I find this article very disturbing. Saudi women are no different to any other female. Why take away something that they enjoy and is keeping them fit. Surely in this day and age health is important.

Emma 10 years ago

This is unbelieveable! I find it incredible that the gentleman who made the comment in the second paragraph refers to 'people's health' as being the problem. Don't gyms help all people's health, including women. Why is it that they don't see the importance of these kinds of services for women aswell. If it's a women's only gym, why is it such a problem??

Omar 10 years ago

Having lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and being a Muslim who reads the Holy Quran as well as other Holy books of other religions such as Bible, i can not find any single interpretation of such a disturbing decision. No wonder why Western media harshly criticize Saudi Arabia. Yes, it's their country and we respect their decisions 100%!But that's exactly why recruiters from all over the world find major difficulties to get people to work there! They are free to do what they want in their country and people are free not to go there!They wonder why UAE is highly in demand. This is why!!!TOLERANCE is the key!!!

Humanity Rules 10 years ago

Maybe you all should reconsider the 'sanctity' of Saudi Arabia before you question it's authority on the 'one true faith'. You all should collectively ban the haj to mecca in protest; they don't want 'kuffars' anyway.

I love Saudi.... 10 years ago

Lol whats next...ban women from hospitals, or restaurants, cafes, malls maybe..I swear Saudians need to setup an example for others and sadly enough they perfectly do it, but wrong examples! I mean dont they understand the less freedom you give to people the more they want..no wonder Saudi ppl are so frustrated with their lives.. I wonder what Saudi ppl think...?

Gloria 10 years ago

In this day and age when the emphasis is on people to partake of exercise to cut the alarming growth of diabetes, obesity, and heart conditions I find the fact that a fitness center for ladies , which was actually attached to a hospital, could be shut down. What harm did the exercise do for the people utilising the facility - none!!!!!!!! Perhaps the health minister would prefer that the participants die of diseases attributed to the lack of exercise. The reason cited in the article for the closure was: "Anyone who violates regulations governing the running of health facilities would be punished severely because this involves people’s health" If the reason is that the gymnasium was not being run correctly, as it would appear from the statement, surely it would have been better to change the management and monitor the gymnasium rather than total closure. Penalise the guilty parties, not the innocent and let the women continue to have a facility to partake in healthy activities.

consider 10 years ago

West think of Masjid's minarates as threat, you people do not say anything at time, French think abaya is threat, they do not feel the same way for Nuns. You people do not say anything at time.

Joe Bloggs 10 years ago

I think Saudi Arabia is living in the dark ages. What harm can a ladies gym be to society or health/safety? It is all a mask to keep men dominant and women subsurviant. Men treat women like dogs in KSA (worse than dogs) and msot of the region come to that. What is their problem? It is time to sort this out once and for all.

Sam 10 years ago

This is truly the most ridiclous thing I have heard today. This is the height of "Double Standards" where men can do what ever they want and women have to live in confinement. Where in Islam were rules like this written ? Only a true projection of a very insecure ego. Shame on the law makers who write these kind of laws and then believe they are doing it for "health & safety". Time to wake up !!!