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Saudi Arabian authorities shut down women’s fitness club over ‘indecent’ video

Saudi Arabian authorities shut down women’s fitness club over ‘indecent’ video
April 21, 2018

Just over a year after Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority began issuing licences for the operation of female fitness facilities, the body has shut down a women’s gym in the capital city of Riyadh on Friday over a contentious promotional video that appeared to show a woman in figure-hugging workout attire.

Ordered the suspension of the centre’s licence and the opening of an investigation, as of yesterday, General Sports Authority President, Turki al-Sheikh advised that the video contained scenes that could corrupt public morals, adding in a Twitter post that Saudi authorities “will not tolerate this.”

al-Sheikh, an adviser to powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, also told authorities to investigate and prosecute those behind the video.

The video, which was widely circulated on social media but could not be independently verified by news outlets, showed a woman with uncovered hair in what appeared to be a gym and kicking a punching bag.

Saud al-Qahtani, a media adviser to the royal court, praised the Sports Authority's swift response, saying on Twitter that the Kingdom was on the path of "moderation without moral breakdown".

Women are required to wear body-shrouding abaya robes and also cover their hair in public in parts of the ultra-conservative nation, which has some of the world's toughest restrictions on women.

Amid the vast program of reform that has been spurred by Crown Prince Mohammed, authorities last year started granting licences for women’s gyms to encourage Saudi women to embrace healthier lifestyles.

The nation will also allow women to drive from June and recently permitted them to enter sports stadiums for the first time.

The government is also seeking to jump-start women's sports and is moving toward compulsory physical education classes for girls, after a ban was lifted in 2014.

However, the Kingdom still requires women to seek permission from a male guardian - usually a father, husband or brother - to study, work or travel.

YouTube vVideo shows the contentious fitness footage.

30th October 2017 - SAUDI ARABIA TO ALLOW WOMEN TO ATTEND STADIUM-BASED SPORT

11th October 2017 - SAUDI ARABIA REVEALS US$2.7 BILLION PLAN TO EXPAND ENTERTAINMENT SECTOR

14th August 2017 - HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP WELCOMES SAUDI ARABIAN REFORM ON SCHOOL SPORT FOR GIRLS

17th March 2017 - FITNESS FIRST MIDDLE EAST TO OPEN WOMEN-ONLY GYMS IN SAUDI ARABIA

9th March 2017 - NIKE LAUNCHES HIGH-PERFORMANCE SPORTS HIJAB FOR MUSLIM ATHLETES

23rd February 2017 - ASIAN FITNESS CLUB MERGER SEES CREATION OF EVOLUTION WELLNESS 

15th February 2017 - SAUDI ARABIA TO START GRANTING LICENCES FOR FEMALE GYM OPERATIONS 

26th May 2016 - IHRSA REPORTS ONGOING GROWTH IN GLOBAL FITNESS INDUSTRY 


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