Saudi Arabia is about to shut down its dozen or so women-only gyms ostensibly because they’re “unlicensed and so illegal,” the Guardian reports. But leading Saudi clerics have recently condemned the gyms as places of “shamelessness” and argue they’ll tempt women to leave their homes and neglect their husbands and children. This would leave Saudi women who want to work out at the gym out of luck, given that mixed gyms are forbidden in the kingdom. The obvious step of making women’s gyms legal seems unlikely given that the authorities responsible for men’s gyms have “not been allowed or prepared to regulate those for women,” reports the paper, which quotes a businessman who tried to set up a women’s sports club and abandoned the project after hitting a wall at every turn. The gym shut-down occurs amid discussion that Saudi women might be allowed to vote in municipal elections for the first time, though no one is holding their breath: Prince Nayef, the powerful interior minister, who has said the kingdom had no need of either women MPs or elections, appears on the fast-track to succeed his half-brother the King.
Saudi women banned from going to the gym
But they might get to vote!