I am not a bolger!

I’m a blogger. This is what was written in Arab News today, the leading Saudi English paper in an article about women’s sports clubs here. Another thing that I’m not is a social worker. I’m a lecturer. I teach English as a foreign language and for specific academic purposes.  But what I was really disappointed in was that the writer got my viewpoint all wrong. She asked me what I thought about religious people using the government to close down sports clubs. The issue being that these clubs are increasingly becoming popular with Saudi women. Women only sports clubs have been popping up everywhere and their fees are now within reach of the average woman. They offer aerobic classes, self-defense and even salsa dancing. However they have no legal licensing umbrella because according to the government all forms of exercise are for men only. So the owners of these clubs get a license for a salon or a child activity center and then expand from there. Ultra conservatives are dead against these establishments because they believe that they lead Saudi women to sin through the influence of and interaction with unsavory feminist and sometimes they go as far as lesbian women who work there and frequent the clubs (according to the muttawa sexually repressed wild imagination). Moreover they believe that exercise goes against femininity and that it is an exclusively manly domain.

In the eighties and nineties there weren’t many of these sports clubs around and if one does open, the muttawas would camp outside its doors and harass the owner and workers until it closes down out of frustration. Then these muttawas would preach about the sins that they uncovered and led to their victory in closing the club.  

Now that they are all over the place and extremely high in demand the muttawas logistically cannot take the same approach. So what they are doing is taking a top down approach through bureaucratic nonsense. And that is what I meant by their reaction being natural. I do not support the government in closing them down but I do believe that licensing should be done properly. What the ultra conservatives are doing is futile because its too little, too late. It’s the same thing over and over again with satellite TV, camera cell phones, music stores …etc. The general public demands them too much for these conservatives to be able to stop their spread. And now they are taking on womens sports clubs which will only lead them to be legalized and taken off the black market into the light, just like their other “sinful” predecessors.  


Filed under Eman

15 responses to “I am not a bolger!

  1. Jerry M

    Is there any reason why clubs need licensing at all?

  2. I noticed that Typo yesterday in the article! lol.

    As for the main issue spoken about, its absolutely ridiculous that they are against female gyms opening. I don’t see any reason why it should be seen as a sin, if they are worried about lesbianism, there is enough in the education system… will they close down all the schools and universities in the country? Working out is something I LOVE, and being in an environment with other like-minded people makes it all the more challenging. I sure hope they begin and easier and more logic form of licencing for ladies gyms. Better yet, why not make it undergo what male gyms go under? That should be enough!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. The Fark Knight

    You’re not a bolger, you’re a Bolger. That’s like a title or something!

    Maybe you’ve been blog-knighted! 🙂


  4. Jerry M

    “I am not a bolger!”

    There was Ray Bolger (from the Wizard of Oz), perhaps the writer meant you were a dancer and actor! (I don’t really think so, but it is a thought).

  5. suliman

    to let others knows the other half or the story:
    the government closed the unlicensed women health clubs because they caught a prostitute at one of the unlicensed clubs( that was posted on one of the newspapers in saudi)
    That was the real cause. The government didn’t close all the clubs ,but the unlicensed ones!
    There is a law in the country; people must follow it. Business owners paid hunderds of thusands of Riyals to get licensed. It’s not fair for them to not close the illegal clubs.
    Saudi law requires all the private women health clubs to be monitored by private or public health organizations. I mean here private hospitals, specialized clinics and so on.

    Women are encouraged to go to licensed health clubs and practice their hobbies freely under the supervison of certified specialists and health doctors.

    thanks for posting

    • the ‘finding’ of one prostitute in one unlicensed center doesn’t warrant a crack down on women exercising in general. Although I find it odd that they ‘found’ one prostitute in a ‘womans’ gym. Generally they service men don’t they?

      The point is that mens gyms are NOT under supervision of ‘certified specialists’ and ‘health doctors’. Why are womens gyms treated differently? Simply because they don’t want them.

      I’m all for proper business licensing but when a country continually discriminates against one gender than it is an issue for me. Not to mention the over all government status on women exercising to begin with. But I don’t think many men get that.

  6. saudiwoman

    I’m sorry Suliman but you’ve taken being a Saudi apologist way too far. In which paper was there an article on catching a prostitute in a women’s exercise club?
    A license for a women’s exercise club is non existent. There is no such thing as a a women’s sports club according to the government. This is a fact.
    The only ones that are being spared are the ones that are part of a medical facility because they are used as part of physical therapy.

  7. Was the prostitute working out? or was she there with her pimp? or maybe she was offering her services to other women… hmmm

    Sometimes, we are just so gullible that we believe anything without thinking.

    What about the guy that said women that excersize and go out walking “have no shame” or those that follow sports and go to stadiums have not been raised well.

    Keep on bolGering, maybe the writer was thinking of Bvlgari.

  8. suliman

    ”A license for a women’s exercise club is non existent”.
    there are some new changes but you got to wait to see them !
    first step is to controll clubs then start again with a new criteria.

  9. Pingback: Saudyjek fitness underground | FREE-MEDIA.PL

  10. AHMAD

    This topic caught my attention, simply i would like to add that the main problem in this country which i was born in and moved to Canada for 7 years and sadly am back to see that people are still thinking the same way. what i meant to say is that government would love to open this country like any-other but the main problem is with the people who lives here. take this simple example: what would a little kid do if you give him/her a toy. they will keep playing with it tell they brake it in pieces. that’s exactly our people. they abuse the thing tell they lose or have it restricted from the government. where does this happen in any country to find a Saudi women going to the gym with full make up and all accessories on. showing off is everywhere. gym is for working out be healthy stay in shape, not what you wear and how much money you have to spend on gym clothes. sorry i know i went off topic but this is driving me crazy man. Its unbelievable. .

    • AHT

      I believe it’s the goverment that made people like that ahmad. Everything is controlled that made people used for the goverment to put restricts for them. that what made people forget how to differ between right and wrong.

  11. You are quite the bag if nags and complaints aren’t you? Do you have resume..? Your nonsense is almost at international media standards. Say something deny change divert lowball insinuate etc…
    I can send ur res to CNN and follow up on ur behalf…
    Please move here….your dreams will come true

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