Saudi women sports clubs begin licensing procedures

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Saudi women sport enthusiasts in Saudi Arabia welcomed a move on Thursday by 25 female sport clubs which looked to obtain an operating license, a local newspaper reported Wednesday.

“I am very eager to see the day when I will freely visit sports clubs exclusive for us,” a Saudi woman told the Saudi Gazette.

President of United Jeddah Club Leena Almaeena greeted the news saying the decision to issue licenses for women sports clubs “was very important.”

Almaeena told the Saudi Gazette that such centers however will have to comply to ethical and educational values of the Saudi society.

A Saudi government source denied earlier reports that the kingdom allowed licensing women’s sports club. The source said a ministerial committee set to look into the issue has not yet reached a decision on whether to allow them.

Women sport clubs are not allowed to operate in the ultra-religious country. Women’s exercise facilities are usually licensed by the Health Ministry, and are designated as “health centers,” reported Reuters.

Female governmental schools in the kingdom do not offer exercise classes.

Saudi female athletes were allowed for the first time to participate in last year’s Olympics in London, after pressure from international rights groups.

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